Purpose: To evaluate clinical utility of respiratory-correlated (RC) four-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (4DMRI) for lung tumor delineation and motion assessment, in comparison with the current clinical standard of 4D computed tomography (4DCT). Methods and Materials: A prospective T2-weighted (T2w) RC-4DMRI technique was applied to acquire coronal 4DMRI images for 14 lung cancer patients (16 lesions) during free breathing (FB) under an IRB-approved protocol, together with a breath-hold (BH) T1w 3DMRI and axial 4DMRI. Clinical simulation CT and 4DCT were acquired within 2 h. An internal navigator was applied to trigger amplitude-binned 4DMRI acquisition whereas a bellows or real-time position management (RPM) was used in the 4DCT reconstruction. Six radiation oncologists manually delineated the gross and internal tumor volumes (GTV and ITV) in 399 3D images using programmed clinical workflows under a tumor delineation guideline. The ITV was the union of GTVs within the breathing cycle without margin. Average GTV and motion range were assessed and ITV variation between 4DMRI and 4DCT was evaluated using the Dice similarity index, mean distance agreement (MDA), and volume difference. Results: The mean tumor volume is similar between 4DCT (GTV4DCT = 1.0, as the reference) and T2w-4DMRI (GTVT2wMR = 0.97), but smaller in T1w MRI (GTVT1wMR = 0.76), suggesting possible peripheral edema around the tumor. Average GTV variation within the breathing cycle (22%) in 4DMRI is slightly greater than 4DCT (17%). GTV motion variation (−4 to 12 mm) and ITV variation (∆VITV=−25 to 95%) between 4DCT and 4DMRI are large, confirmed by relatively low ITV similarity (Dice = 0.72 ± 0.11) and large MDA = 2.9 ± 1.5 mm. Conclusion: Average GTVs are similar between T2w-4DMRI and 4DCT, but smaller by 25% in T1w BH MRI. Physician training and breathing coaching may be necessary to reduce ITV variability between 4DMRI and 4DCT. Four-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging is a promising and viable technique for clinical lung tumor delineation and motion assessment.
- magnetic resonance imaging
- motion artifacts
- respiratory motion simulation
- treatment planning
- tumor delineation