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Systematic Review of Synthetic Computed Tomography Generation Methodologies for Use in Magnetic Resonance Imaging–Only Radiation Therapy

Lookup NU author(s): JJ Wyatt, Dr Charles Kelly, Dr Hazel McCallum


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© 2017 Elsevier Inc. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers superior soft-tissue contrast as compared with computed tomography (CT), which is conventionally used for radiation therapy treatment planning (RTP) and patient positioning verification, resulting in improved target definition. The 2 modalities are co-registered for RTP; however, this introduces a systematic error. Implementing an MRI-only radiation therapy workflow would be advantageous because this error would be eliminated, the patient pathway simplified, and patient dose reduced. Unlike CT, in MRI there is no direct relationship between signal intensity and electron density; however, various methodologies for MRI-only RTP have been reported. A systematic review of these methods was undertaken. The PRISMA guidelines were followed. Embase and Medline databases were searched (1996 to March, 2017) for studies that generated synthetic CT scans (sCT)s for MRI-only radiation therapy. Sixty-one articles met the inclusion criteria. This review showed that MRI-only RTP techniques could be grouped into 3 categories: (1) bulk density override; (2) atlas-based; and (3) voxel-based techniques, which all produce an sCT scan from MR images. Bulk density override techniques either used a single homogeneous or multiple tissue override. The former produced large dosimetric errors (>2%) in some cases and the latter frequently required manual bone contouring. Atlas-based techniques used both single and multiple atlases and included methods incorporating pattern recognition techniques. Clinically acceptable sCTs were reported, but atypical anatomy led to erroneous results in some cases. Voxel-based techniques included methods using routine and specialized MRI sequences, namely ultra-short echo time imaging. High-quality sCTs were produced; however, use of multiple sequences led to long scanning times increasing the chances of patient movement. Using nonroutine sequences would currently be problematic in most radiation therapy centers. Atlas-based and voxel-based techniques were found to be the most clinically useful methods, with some studies reporting dosimetric differences of <1% between planning on the sCT and CT and <1-mm deviations when using sCTs for positional verification.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Johnstone E, Wyatt JJ, Henry AM, Short SC, Sebag-Montefiore D, Murray L, Kelly CG, McCallum HM, Speight R

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics

Year: 2018

Volume: 100

Issue: 1

Pages: 199-217

Print publication date: 01/01/2018

Online publication date: 08/09/2017

Acceptance date: 30/08/2017

ISSN (print): 0360-3016

ISSN (electronic): 1879-355X

Publisher: Elsevier Inc.


DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2017.08.043