MR-guidance in clinical reality: current treatment challenges and future perspectives

Radiat Oncol. 2019 Jun 3;14(1):92. doi: 10.1186/s13014-019-1308-y.


Magnetic Resonance-guided radiotherapy (MRgRT) marks the beginning of a new era. MR is a versatile and suitable imaging modality for radiotherapy, as it enables direct visualization of the tumor and the surrounding organs at risk. Moreover, MRgRT provides real-time imaging to characterize and eventually track anatomical motion. Nevertheless, the successful translation of new technologies into clinical practice remains challenging. To date, the initial availability of next-generation hybrid MR-linac (MRL) systems is still limited and therefore, the focus of the present preview was on the initial applicability in current clinical practice and on future perspectives of this new technology for different treatment sites.MRgRT can be considered a groundbreaking new technology that is capable of creating new perspectives towards an individualized, patient-oriented planning and treatment approach, especially due to the ability to use daily online adaptation strategies. Furthermore, MRL systems overcome the limitations of conventional image-guided radiotherapy, especially in soft tissue, where target and organs at risk need accurate definition. Nevertheless, some concerns remain regarding the additional time needed to re-optimize dose distributions online, the reliability of the gating and tracking procedures and the interpretation of functional MR imaging markers and their potential changes during the course of treatment. Due to its continuous technological improvement and rapid clinical large-scale application in several anatomical settings, further studies may confirm the potential disruptive role of MRgRT in the evolving oncological environment.

Keywords: MR-guided radiotherapy, Image-guided, radiotherapy, MR-IGRT, MR-Linac, adaptive radiotherapy, Inter-fraction variability, Intra-fraction fraction variability, MRI, outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Organs at Risk / diagnostic imaging
  • Organs at Risk / radiation effects
  • Precision Medicine
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted
  • Radiotherapy, Image-Guided* / trends
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated
  • Reproducibility of Results