Objective assessment in digital images of skin erythema caused by radiotherapy
Skin toxicity caused by radiotherapy has been visually classified into discrete grades. The present study proposes an objective and continuous assessment method of skin erythema in digital images taken under arbitrary lighting conditions, which is the case for most clinical environments. The purpose of this paper is to show the feasibility of the proposed method.
Clinical data were gathered from six patients who received carbon beam therapy for lung cancer. Skin condition was recorded using an ordinary compact digital camera under unfixed lighting conditions; a laser Doppler flowmeter was used to measure blood flow in the skin. The photos and measurements were taken at 3 h, 30, and 90 days after irradiation. Images were decomposed into hemoglobin and melanin colors using independent component analysis. Pixel values in hemoglobin color images were compared with skin dose and skin blood flow. The uncertainty of the practical photographic method was also studied in nonclinical experiments.
The clinical data showed good linearity between skin dose, skin blood flow, and pixel value in the hemoglobin color images; their correlation coefficients were larger than 0.7. It was deduced from the nonclinical that the uncertainty due to the proposed method with photography was 15%; such an uncertainty was not critical for assessment of skin erythema in practical use.
Feasibility of the proposed method for assessment of skin erythema using digital images was demonstrated. The numerical relationship obtained helped to predict skin erythema by artificial processing of skin images. Although the proposed method using photographs taken under unfixed lighting conditions increased the uncertainty of skin information in the images, it was shown to be powerful for the assessment of skin conditions because of its flexibility and adaptability.