Ever since its introduction as a diagnostic imaging modality over 30 years ago, the radiation therapy community has acknowledged the utility of MR imaging as a tool for not only improved visualization of the target volume but also for demarcation of adjacent organs at risk. However, the adaptation of MR imaging in radiation oncology has, until recently been slow due in large part to the inability to image radiation therapy patients in their treatment position. With the introduction of so-called wide bore high field MR scanners, multi element flexible receive only RF coils, high performance imaging gradients and a range of volumetric imaging sequences it is now possible to obtain both high resolution and high signal-to-noise ratio images of in-treatment radiation therapy patients within clinically feasible imaging times. As a Result, there is renewed interest in the use of MR imaging for radiation oncology treatment planning that is being translated into physical siting and integration of these systems into radiation oncology departments.
As MR imaging expands into the radiation oncology domain there is a significant and unmet need for radiation therapy physicists to become educated regarding the strengths, limitations and technical challenges associated with MR imaging. The purpose of this presentation is to address this need by providing an educational overview of the techniques and challenges associated with MR imaging of patients for radiation therapy treatment planning. As such this presentation will: 1) describe the fundamental differences between imaging of patients for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes (i.e. radiation therapy planning), 2) describe most commonly used imaging sequences and contrasts for identification of disease for radiation planning, 3) identify the most common sources of image distortion and techniques to reduce their effect on spatial fidelity of the MR data, 4) describe the effects of motion and methods to quantify/correct it, and 5) identify emergent techniques for performing MR only treatment simulation.
Upon completion attendees will have a working understanding of the basic methodologies associated with MR imaging in radiation oncology, the unique technical challenges imposed by MR imaging in the treatment position and techniques to address these.
- 1.Understand the differences between MR imaging for diagnostic imaging and for radiation therapy planning.
- 2.Identify the most common sources of distortion and artifacts and simple methods to correct them.
- 3.Understand the challenges with MR imaging in the therapy treatment position and appropriate techniques to address them.