Towards integration of PET/MR hybrid imaging into radiation therapy treatment planning

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Multimodality imaging has become an important adjunct of state-of-the-art radiation therapy (RT) treatment planning. Recently, simultaneous PET/MR hybrid imaging has become clinically available and may also contribute to target volume delineation and biological individualization in RT planning. For integration of PET/MR hybrid imaging into RT treatment planning, compatible dedicated RT devices are required for accurate patient positioning. In this study, prototype RT positioning devices intended for PET/MR hybrid imaging are introduced and tested toward PET/MR compatibility and image quality.


A prototype flat RT table overlay and two radiofrequency (RF) coil holders that each fix one flexible body matrix RF coil for RT head/neck imaging have been evaluated within this study. MR image quality with the RT head setup was compared to the actual PET/MR setup with a dedicated head RF coil. PET photon attenuation and CT-based attenuation correction (AC) of the hardware components has been quantitatively evaluated by phantom scans. Clinical application of the new RT setup in PET/MR imaging was evaluated in an in vivo study.


The RT table overlay and RF coil holders are fully PET/MR compatible. MR phantom and volunteer imaging with the RT head setup revealed high image quality, comparable to images acquired with the dedicated PET/MR head RF coil, albeit with 25% reduced SNR. Repositioning accuracy of the RF coil holders was below 1 mm. PET photon attenuation of the RT table overlay was calculated to be 3.8% and 13.8% for the RF coil holders. With CT-based AC of the devices, the underestimation error was reduced to 0.6% and 0.8%, respectively. Comparable results were found within the patient study.


The newly designed RT devices for hybrid PET/MR imaging are PET and MR compatible. The mechanically rigid design and the reproducible positioning allow for straightforward CT-based AC. The systematic evaluation within this study provides the technical basis for the clinical integration of PET/MR hybrid imaging into RT treatment planning.

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