Assessing the impact of magnetic resonance treatment simulation (MRSIM) on target volume delineation and dose to organs at risk for oropharyngeal radiotherapy

J Med Radiat Sci. 2021 Oct 22. doi: 10.1002/jmrs.552. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Assessing the use of a radiation therapy (RT) planning MRI performed in the treatment position (pMRI) on target volume delineation and effect on organ at risk dose for oropharyngeal cancer patients planned with diagnostic MRI (dMRI) and CT scan.

Methods: Diagnostic MRI scans were acquired for 26 patients in a neutral patient position using a 3T scanner (dMRI). Subsequent pMRI scans were acquired on the same scanner with a flat couch top and the patient in their immobilisation mask. Each series was rigidly registered to the patients planning CT scan and volumes were first completed with the CT/dMRI. The pMRI was then made available for volume modification. For the group with revised volumes, two IMRT plans were developed to demonstrate the impact of the modification. Image and registration quality was also evaluated.

Results: The pMRI registration led to the modification of target volumes for 19 of 26 participants. The pMRI target volumes were larger in absolute volume resulting in reduced capacity for organ sparing. Predominantly, modifications occurred for the primary gross tumour volume (GTVp) with a mean Dice Similarity Coefficient (DSC) of 0.7 and the resulting high risk planning target volume, a mean DSC of 0.89. Both MRIs scored similarly for image quality, with the pMRI demonstrating improved registration quality and efficiency.

Conclusions: A pMRI provides improvement in registration efficiency, quality and a higher degree of oncologist confidence in target delineation. These results have led to a practice change within our department, where a pMRI is acquired for all eligible oropharyngeal cancer patients.

Keywords: MRI; delineation; organs at risk dose; oropharynx; radiation therapy planning; target volumes.