Identifying MRI markers to evaluate early treatment related changes post laser ablation for cancer pain management

Proc SPIE Int Soc Opt Eng. 2014 Mar 12;9036:90362L. doi: 10.1117/12.2043729.


Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) has recently emerged as a new treatment modality for cancer pain management that targets the cingulum (pain center in the brain), and has shown promise over radio-frequency (RF) based ablation which is reported to provide temporary relief. One of the major advantages enjoyed by LITT is its compatibility with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), allowing for high resolution in vivo imaging to be used in LITT procedures. Since laser ablation for pain management is currently exploratory and is only performed at a few centers worldwide, its short-, and long-term effects on the cingulum are currently unknown. Traditionally treatment effects are evaluated by monitoring changes in volume of the ablation zone post-treatment. However, this is sub-optimal since it involves evaluating a single global parameter (volume) to detect changes pre-, and post-MRI. Additionally, the qualitative observations of LITT-related changes on multi-parametric MRI (MP-MRI) do not specifically address differentiation between the appearance of treatment related changes (edema, necrosis) from recurrence of the disease (pain recurrence). In this work, we explore the utility of computer extracted texture descriptors on MP-MRI to capture early treatment related changes on a per-voxel basis by extracting quantitative relationships that may allow for an in-depth understanding of tissue response to LITT on MRI, subtle changes that may not be appreciable on original MR intensities. The second objective of this work is to investigate the efficacy of different MRI protocols in accurately capturing treatment related changes within and outside the ablation zone post-LITT. A retrospective cohort of studies comprising pre- and 24-hour post-LITT 3 Tesla T1-weighted (T1w), T2w, T2-GRE, and T2-FLAIR acquisitions was considered. Our scheme involved (1) inter-protocol as well as inter-acquisition affine registration of pre- and post-LITT MRI, (2) quantitation of MRI parameters by correcting for intensity drift in order to examine tissue-specific response, and (3) quantification of MRI maps via texture and intensity features to evaluate changes in MR markers pre- and post-LITT. A total of 78 texture features comprising of non-steerable and steerable gradient and second order statistical features were extracted from pre- and post-LITT MP-MRI on a per-voxel basis. Quantitative, voxel-wise comparison of the changes in MRI texture features between pre-, and post-LITT MRI indicate that (a) steerable and non-steerable gradient texture features were highly sensitive as well as specific in predicting subtle micro-architectural changes within and around the ablation zone pre- and post-LITT, (b) FLAIR was identified as the most sensitive MRI protocol in identifying early treatment changes yielding a normalized percentage change of 360% within the ablation zone relative to its pre-LITT value, and (c) GRE was identified as the most sensitive MRI protocol in quantifying changes outside the ablation zone post-LITT. Our preliminary results thus indicate great potential for non-invasive computerized MRI features in determining localized micro-architectural focal treatment related changes post-LITT.

Keywords: cancer pain; focal treatment; laser interstitial thermal therapy; monitoring; multi-parametric MRI; registration; treatment change; treatment evaluation.