A framework for the correction of slow physiological drifts during MR-guided HIFU therapies: Proof of concept
While respiratory motion compensation for magnetic resonance (MR)-guided high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) interventions has been extensively studied, the influence of slow physiological motion due to, for example, peristaltic activity, has so far been largely neglected. During lengthy interventions, the magnitude of the latter can exceed acceptable therapeutic margins. The goal of the present study is to exploit the episodic workflow of these therapies to implement a motion correction strategy for slow varying drifts of the target area and organs at risk over the entire duration of the intervention.
The therapeutic workflow of a MR-guided HIFU intervention is in practice often episodic: Bursts of energy delivery are interleaved with periods of inactivity, allowing the effects of the beam on healthy tissues to recede and/or during which the plan of the intervention is reoptimized. These periods usually last for at least several minutes. It is at this time scale that organ drifts due to slow physiological motion become significant. In order to capture these drifts, the authors propose the integration of 3D MR scans in the therapy workflow during the inactivity intervals. Displacements were estimated using an optical flow algorithm applied on the 3D acquired images. A preliminary study was conducted on ten healthy volunteers. For each volunteer, 3D MR images of the abdomen were acquired at regular intervals of 10 min over a total duration of 80 min. Motion analysis was restricted to the liver and kidneys. For validating the compatibility of the proposed motion correction strategy with the workflow of a MR-guided HIFU therapy, an in vivo experiment on a porcine liver was conducted. A volumetric HIFU ablation was completed over a time span of 2 h. A 3D image was acquired before the first sonication, as well as after each sonication.
Following the volunteer study, drifts larger than 8 mm for the liver and 5 mm for the kidneys prove that slow physiological motion can exceed acceptable therapeutic margins. In the animal experiment, motion tracking revealed an initial shift of up to 4 mm during the first 10 min and a subsequent continuous shift of ∼2 mm/h until the end of the intervention. This leads to a continuously increasing mismatch of the initial shot planning, the thermal dose measurements, and the true underlying anatomy. The estimated displacements allowed correcting the planned sonication cell cluster positions to the true target position, as well as the thermal dose estimates during the entire intervention and to correct the nonperfused volume measurement. A spatial coherence of all three is particularly important to assure a confluent ablation volume and to prevent remaining islets of viable malignant tissue.
This study proposes a motion correction strategy for displacements resulting from slowly varying physiological motion that might occur during a MR-guided HIFU intervention. The authors have shown that such drifts can lead to a misalignment between interventional planning, energy delivery, and therapeutic validation. The presented volunteer study and in vivo experiment demonstrate both the relevance of the problem for HIFU therapies and the compatibility of the proposed motion compensation framework with the workflow of a HIFU intervention under clinical conditions.