Magnetic resonance physics
Continuous table acquisition MRI for radiotherapy treatment planning: Distortion assessment with a new extended 3D volumetric phantom
Accurate geometry is required for radiotherapy treatment planning (RTP). When considering the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for RTP, geometric distortions observed in the acquired images should be considered. While scanner technology and vendor supplied correction algorithms provide some correction, large distortions are still present in images, even when considering considerably smaller scan lengths than those typically acquired with CT in conventional RTP. This study investigates MRI acquisition with a moving table compared with static scans for potential geometric benefits for RTP.
A full field of view (FOV) phantom (diameter 500 mm; length 513 mm) was developed for measuring geometric distortions in MR images over volumes pertinent to RTP. The phantom consisted of layers of refined plastic within which vitamin E capsules were inserted. The phantom was scanned on CT to provide the geometric gold standard and on MRI, with differences in capsule location determining the distortion. MRI images were acquired with two techniques. For the first method, standard static table acquisitions were considered. Both 2D and 3D acquisition techniques were investigated. With the second technique, images were acquired with a moving table. The same sequence was acquired with a static table and then with table speeds of 1.1 mm/s and 2 mm/s. All of the MR images acquired were registered to the CT dataset using a deformable B-spline registration with the resulting deformation fields providing the distortion information for each acquisition.
MR images acquired with the moving table enabled imaging of the whole phantom length while images acquired with a static table were only able to image 50%–70% of the phantom length of 513 mm. Maximum distortion values were reduced across a larger volume when imaging with a moving table. Increased table speed resulted in a larger contribution of distortion from gradient nonlinearities in the through-plane direction and an increased blurring of capsule images, resulting in an apparent capsule volume increase by up to 170% in extreme axial FOV regions. Blurring increased with table speed and in the central regions of the phantom, geometric distortion was less for static table acquisitions compared to a table speed of 2 mm/s over the same volume. Overall, the best geometric accuracy was achieved with a table speed of 1.1 mm/s.
The phantom designed enables full FOV imaging for distortion assessment for the purposes of RTP. MRI acquisition with a moving table extends the imaging volume in the z direction with reduced distortions which could be useful particularly if considering MR-only planning. If utilizing MR images to provide additional soft tissue information to the planning CT, standard acquisition sequences over a smaller volume would avoid introducing additional blurring or distortions from the through-plane table movement.