Identification of prostate gold fiducial markers in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images is challenging when CT images are not available, due to misclassifications from intra-prostatic calcifications. It is also a time consuming task and automated identification methods have been suggested as an improvement for both objectives. Multi-echo gradient echo (MEGRE) images have been utilized for manual fiducial identification with 100% detection accuracy. The aim is therefore to develop an automatic deep learning based method for fiducial identification in MRI images intended for MRI-only prostate radiotherapy. MEGRE images from 326 prostate cancer patients with fiducials were acquired on a 3T MRI, post-processed with N4 bias correction, and the fiducial center of mass (CoM) was identified. A 9 mm radius sphere was created around the CoM as ground truth. A deep learning HighRes3DNet model for semantic segmentation was trained using image augmentation. The model was applied to 39 MRI-only patients and 3D probability maps for fiducial location and segmentation were produced and spatially smoothed. In each of the three largest probability peaks, a 9 mm radius sphere was defined. Detection sensitivity and geometric accuracy was assessed. To raise awareness of potential false findings a 'BeAware' score was developed, calculated from the total number and quality of the probability peaks. All datasets, annotations and source code used were made publicly available. The detection sensitivity for all fiducials were 97.4%. Thirty-six out of thirty-nine patients had all fiducial markers correctly identified. All three failed patients generated a user notification using the BeAware score. The mean absolute difference between the detected fiducial and ground truth CoM was 0.7 ± 0.9 [0 3.1] mm. A deep learning method for automatic fiducial identification in MRI images was developed and evaluated with state-of-the-art results. The BeAware score has the potential to notify the user regarding patients where the proposed method is uncertain.
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