Quantitative imaging and image processing
Characterizing spatiotemporal information loss in sparse-sampling-based dynamic MRI for monitoring respiration-induced tumor motion in radiotherapy
Sparse-sampling and reconstruction techniques represent an attractive strategy to achieve faster image acquisition speeds, while maintaining adequate spatial resolution and signal-to-noise ratio in rapid magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The authors investigate the use of one such sequence, broad-use linear acquisition speed-up technique (k-t BLAST) in monitoring tumor motion for thoracic and abdominal radiotherapy and examine the potential trade-off between increased sparsification (to increase imaging speed) and the potential loss of “true” information due to greater reliance on a priori information.
Lung tumor motion trajectories in the superior–inferior direction, previously recorded from ten lung cancer patients, were replayed using a motion phantom module driven by an MRI-compatible motion platform. Eppendorf test tubes filled with water which serve as fiducial markers were placed in the phantom. The modeled rigid and deformable motions were collected in a coronal image slice using balanced fast field echo in conjunction with k-t BLAST. Root mean square (RMS) error was used as a metric of spatial accuracy as measured trajectories were compared to input data. The loss of spatial information was characterized for progressively increasing acceleration factor from 1 to 16; the resultant sampling frequency was increased approximately from 2.5 to 19 Hz when the principal direction of the motion was set along frequency encoding direction. In addition to the phantom study, respiration-induced tumor motions were captured from two patients (kidney tumor and lung tumor) at 13 Hz over 49 s to demonstrate the impact of high speed motion monitoring over multiple breathing cycles. For each subject, the authors compared the tumor centroid trajectory as well as the deformable motion during free breathing.
In the rigid and deformable phantom studies, the RMS error of target tracking at the acquisition speed of 19 Hz was approximately 0.3–0.4 mm, which was smaller than the reconstructed pixel resolution of 0.67 mm. In the patient study, the dynamic 2D MRI enabled the monitoring of cycle-to-cycle respiratory variability present in the tumor position. It was seen that the range of centroid motion as well as the area covered due to target motion during each individual respiratory cycle was underestimated compared to the entire motion range observed over multiple breathing cycles.
The authors’ initial results demonstrate that sparse-sampling- and reconstruction-based dynamic MRI can be used to achieve adequate image acquisition speeds without significant information loss for the task of radiotherapy guidance. Such monitoring can yield spatial and temporal information superior to conventional offline and online motion capture methods used in thoracic and abdominal radiotherapy.