Objective: Solid tumors are being treated using radiofrequency (RF) ablation under interventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guidance. We are investigating the ability of MRI to monitor ablation treatments by comparing MR images of thermal lesions to histologically assayed tissue damage.
Material and methods: An open MRI system was used to guide an ablation electrode into five rabbit thigh muscles and acquire post-ablation MR image volumes. We developed a methodology using a 3D computer registration to make spatial correlations. After MR and histology images were registered with an accuracy of 1.32+/-0.39 mm (mean+/-SD), a boundary of necrosis identified in the histology was compared with the outer boundary of the hyperintense region in MR images.
Results: For 14 T2-weighted MR images, the absolute distance between boundaries was 0.96+/-0.34 mm (mean+/-SD). Since the small discrepancy between boundaries is comparable to our registration accuracy, the boundaries may match exactly. Similar correlations to histology were obtained with a deformable model segmentation method.
Conclusions: This is good evidence that MR thermal lesion images can be used during RF ablation treatments to accurately localize the zone of necrosis at the lesion margin.