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01.12.2019 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Radiation Oncology 1/2019

Changes of lung parenchyma density following high dose radiation therapy for thoracic carcinomas – an automated analysis of follow up CT scans

Radiation Oncology > Ausgabe 1/2019
Christina Schröder, Rita Engenhart-Cabillic, Sven Kirschner, Eyck Blank, André Buchali



An objective way to qualify the effect of radiotherapy (RT) on lung tissue is the analysis of CT scans after RT. In this analysis we focused on the changes in Hounsfield units (ΔHU) and the correlation with the corresponding radiation dose after RT.


Pre- and post-RT CT scans were matched and ΔHU was calculated using customized research software. ΔHU was calculated in 5-Gy-intervals and the correlation between ΔHU and the corresponding dose was calculated as well as the regression coefficients. Additionally the mean ΔHU and ΔHU in 5-Gy-intervals were calculated for each tumor entity.


The mean density changes at 12 weeks and 6 months post RT were 28,16 HU and 32,83 HU. The correlation coefficient between radiation dose and ΔHU at 12 weeks and 6 months were 0,166 (p = 0,000) and 0,158 (p = 0,000). The resulting regression coefficient were 1439 HU/Gy (p = 0,000) and 1612 HU/Gy (p = 0,000). The individual regression coefficients for each patient range from − 2,23 HU/Gy to 7,46 HU/Gy at 12 weeks and − 0,45 HU/Gy to 10,51 HU/Gy at 6 months. When looking at the three tumor entities individually the highest ΔHU at 12 weeks was seen in patients with SCLC (38,13 HU) and at 6 month in those with esophageal carcinomas (40,98 HU).


For most dose intervals there was an increase of ΔHU with an increased radiation dose. This is reflected by a statistically significant, although low correlation coefficient. The regression coefficients of all patients show large interindividual differences.
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