Diagnostic imaging (ionizing and non-ionizing)
Effect of pulse sequence parameter selection on signal strength in positive-contrast MRI markers for MRI-based prostate postimplant assessment
For postimplant dosimetric assessment, computed tomography (CT) is commonly used to identify prostate brachytherapy seeds, at the expense of accurate anatomical contouring. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is superior to CT for anatomical delineation, but identification of the negative-contrast seeds is challenging. Positive-contrast MRI markers were proposed to replace spacers to assist seed localization on MRI images. Visualization of these markers under varying scan parameters was investigated.
To simulate a clinical scenario, a prostate phantom was implanted with 66 markers and 86 seeds, and imaged on a 3.0T MRI scanner using a 3D fast radiofrequency-spoiled gradient recalled echo acquisition with various combinations of scan parameters. Scan parameters, including flip angle, number of excitations, bandwidth, field-of-view, slice thickness, and encoding steps were systematically varied to study their effects on signal, noise, scan time, image resolution, and artifacts.
The effects of pulse sequence parameter selection on the marker signal strength and image noise were characterized. The authors also examined the tradeoff between signal-to-noise ratio, scan time, and image artifacts, such as the wraparound artifact, susceptibility artifact, chemical shift artifact, and partial volume averaging artifact. Given reasonable scan time and managable artifacts, the authors recommended scan parameter combinations that can provide robust visualization of the MRI markers.
The recommended MRI pulse sequence protocol allows for consistent visualization of the markers to assist seed localization, potentially enabling MRI-only prostate postimplant dosimetry.