PLoS One 2018 30;13(5):e0198065. Epub 2018 May 30.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, United States of America.
Multi-modality image-guided radiotherapy is the standard of care in contemporary cancer management; however, it is not common in preclinical settings due to both hardware and software limitations. Soft tissue lesions, such as orthotopic prostate tumors, are difficult to identify using cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) imaging alone. In this study, we characterized a research magnetic resonance (MR) scanner for preclinical studies and created a protocol for combined MR-CBCT image-guided small animal radiotherapy. Two in-house dual-modality, MR and CBCT compatible, phantoms were designed and manufactured using 3D printing technology. The phantoms were used for quality assurance tests and to facilitate end-to-end testing for combined preclinical MR and CBCT based treatment planning. MR and CBCT images of the phantoms were acquired utilizing a Varian 4.7 T scanner and XRad-225Cx irradiator, respectively. The geometry distortion was assessed by comparing MR images to phantom blueprints and CBCT. The corrected MR scans were co-registered with CBCT and subsequently used for treatment planning. The fidelity of 3D printed phantoms compared to the blueprint design yielded favorable agreement as verified with the CBCT measurements. The geometric distortion, which varied between -5% and 11% throughout the scanning volume, was substantially reduced to within 0.4% after correction. The distortion free MR images were co-registered with the corresponding CBCT images and imported into a commercial treatment planning software SmART Plan. The planning target volume (PTV) was on average 19% smaller when contoured on the corrected MR-CBCT images relative to raw images without distortion correction. An MR-CBCT based preclinical workflow was successfully designed and implemented for small animal radiotherapy. Combined MR-CBCT image-guided radiotherapy for preclinical research potentially delivers enhanced relevance to human radiotherapy for various disease sites. This novel protocol is wide-ranging and not limited to the orthotopic prostate tumor study presented in the study.