T2-Weighted 4D Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Application in Magnetic Resonance–Guided Radiotherapy Treatment Planning

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Abstract

Objectives

The aim of this study was to develop and verify a method to obtain good temporal resolution T2-weighted 4-dimensional (4D-T2w) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by using motion information from T1-weighted 4D (4D-T1w) MRI, to support treatment planning in MR-guided radiotherapy.

Materials and Methods

Ten patients with primary non–small cell lung cancer were scanned at 1.5 T axially with a volumetric T2-weighted turbo spin echo sequence gated to exhalation and a volumetric T1-weighted stack-of-stars spoiled gradient echo sequence with golden angle spacing acquired in free breathing. From the latter, 20 respiratory phases were reconstructed using the recently developed 4D joint MoCo-HDTV algorithm based on the self-gating signal obtained from the k-space center. Motion vector fields describing the respiratory cycle were obtained by deformable image registration between the respiratory phases and projected onto the T2-weighted image volume. The resulting 4D-T2w volumes were verified against the 4D-T1w volumes: an edge-detection method was used to measure the diaphragm positions; the locations of anatomical landmarks delineated by a radiation oncologist were compared and normalized mutual information was calculated to evaluate volumetric image similarity.

Results

High-resolution 4D-T2w MRI was obtained. Respiratory motion was preserved on calculated 4D-T2w MRI, with median diaphragm positions being consistent with less than 6.6 mm (2 voxels) for all patients and less than 3.3 mm (1 voxel) for 9 of 10 patients. Geometrical positions were coherent between 4D-T1w and 4D-T2w MRI as Euclidean distances between all corresponding anatomical landmarks agreed to within 7.6 mm (Euclidean distance of 2 voxels) and were below 3.8 mm (Euclidean distance of 1 voxel) for 355 of 470 pairs of anatomical landmarks. Volumetric image similarity was commensurate between 4D-T1w and 4D-T2w MRI, as mean percentage differences in normalized mutual information (calculated over all respiratory phases and patients), between corresponding respiratory phases of 4D-T1w and 4D-T2w MRI and the tie-phase of 4D-T1w and 3-dimensional T2w MRI, were consistent to 0.41% ± 0.37%. Four-dimensional T2w MRI displayed tumor extent, structure, and position more clearly than corresponding 4D-T1w MRI, especially when mobile tumor sites were adjacent to organs at risk.

Conclusions

A methodology to obtain 4D-T2w MRI that retrospectively applies the motion information from 4D-T1w MRI to 3-dimensional T2w MRI was developed and verified. Four-dimensional T2w MRI can assist clinicians in delineating mobile lesions that are difficult to define on 4D-T1w MRI, because of poor tumor-tissue contrast.

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