TH-E-BRF-09: Gaussian Mixture Model Analysis of Radiation-Induced Parotid-Gland Injury: An Ultrasound Study of Acute and Late Xerostomia in Head-And-Neck Radiotherapy




Xerostomia (dry mouth), secondary to parotid-gland injury, is a distressing side-effect in head-and-neck radiotherapy (RT). This study's purpose is to develop a novel ultrasound technique to quantitatively evaluate post-RT parotid-gland injury.


Recent ultrasound studies have shown that healthy parotid glands exhibit homogeneous echotexture, whereas post-RT parotid glands are often heterogeneous, with multiple hypoechoic (inflammation) or hyperechoic (fibrosis) regions. We propose to use a Gaussian mixture model to analyze the ultrasonic echo-histogram of the parotid glands. An IRB-approved clinical study was conducted: (1) control-group: 13 healthy-volunteers, served as the control; (2) acutetoxicity group − 20 patients (mean age: 62.5 ± 8.9 years, follow-up: 2.0±0.8 months); and (3) late-toxicity group − 18 patients (mean age: 60.7 ± 7.3 years, follow-up: 20.1±10.4 months). All patients experienced RTOG grade 1 or 2 salivary-gland toxicity. Each participant underwent an ultrasound scan (10 MHz) of the bilateral parotid glands. An echo-intensity histogram was derived for each parotid and a Gaussian mixture model was used to fit the histogram using expectation maximization (EM) algorithm. The quality of the fitting was evaluated with the R-squared value.


(1) Controlgroup: all parotid glands fitted well with one Gaussian component, with a mean intensity of 79.8±4.9 (R-squared>0.96). (2) Acute-toxicity group: 37 of the 40 post-RT parotid glands fitted well with two Gaussian components, with a mean intensity of 42.9±7.4, 73.3±12.2 (R-squared>0.95). (3) Latetoxicity group: 32 of the 36 post-RT parotid fitted well with 3 Gaussian components, with mean intensities of 49.7±7.6, 77.2±8.7, and 118.6±11.8 (R-squared>0.98).


RT-associated parotid-gland injury is common in head-and-neck RT, but challenging to assess. This work has demonstrated that the Gaussian mixture model of the echo-histogram could quantify acute and late toxicity of the parotid glands. This study provides meaningful preliminary data from future observational and interventional clinical research.