Radiation therapy physics
The influence of respiratory motion on CT image volume definition
Radiotherapy treatments are based on geometric and density information acquired from patient CT scans. It is well established that breathing motion during scan acquisition induces motion artifacts in CT images, which can alter the size, shape, and density of a patientˈs anatomy. The aim of this work is to examine and evaluate the impact of breathing motion on multislice CT imaging with respiratory synchronization (4DCT) and without it (3DCT).
A specific phantom with a movable insert was used. Static and dynamic phantom acquisitions were obtained with a multislice CT. Four sinusoidal breath patterns were simulated to move known geometric structures longitudinally. Respiratory synchronized acquisitions (4DCT) were performed to generate images during inhale, intermediate, and exhale phases using prospective and retrospective techniques. Static phantom data were acquired in helical and sequential mode to define a baseline for each type of respiratory 4DCT technique. Taking into account the fact that respiratory 4DCT is not always available, 3DCT helical image studies were also acquired for several CT rotation periods. To study breath and acquisition coupling when respiratory 4DCT was not performed, the beginning of the CT image acquisition was matched with inhale, intermediate, or exhale respiratory phases, for each breath pattern. Other coupling scenarios were evaluated by simulating different phantom and CT acquisition parameters. Motion induced variations in shape and density were quantified by automatic threshold volume generation and Dice similarity coefficient calculation. The structure mass center positions were also determined to make a comparison with their theoretical expected position.
4DCT acquisitions provided volume and position accuracies within ±3% and ±2 mm for structure dimensions >2 cm, breath amplitude ≤15 mm, and breath period ≥3 s. The smallest object (1 cm diameter) exceeded 5% volume variation for the breath patterns of higher frequency and amplitude motion. Larger volume differences (>10%) and inconsistencies between the relative positions of objects were detected in image studies acquired without respiratory control. Increasing the 3DCT rotation period caused a higher distortion in structures without obtaining their envelope. Simulated data showed that the slice acquisition time should be at least twice the breath period to average object movement.
Respiratory 4DCT images provide accurate volume and position of organs affected by breath motion detecting higher volume discrepancies as amplitude length or breath frequency are increased. For 3DCT acquisitions, a CT should be considered slow enough to include lesion envelope as long as the slice acquisition time exceeds twice the breathing period. If this requirement cannot be satisfied, a fast CT (along with breath-hold inhale and exhale CTs to estimate roughly the ITV) is recommended in order to minimize structure distortion. Even with an awareness of a patientˈs respiratory cycle, its coupling with 3DCT acquisition cannot be predicted since patient anatomy is not accurately known.