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MRI-Only Based Radiotherapy Treatment Planning for the Rat Brain on a Small Animal Radiation Research Platform (SARRP)

Computed tomography (CT) is the standard imaging modality in radiation therapy treatment planning (RTP). However, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging provides superior soft tissue contrast, increasing the precision of target volume selection. We present MR-only based RTP for a rat brain on a small animal radiation research platform (SARRP) using probabilistic voxel classification with multiple MR sequences. Six rat heads were imaged, each with one CT and five MR sequences. The MR sequences were: T1-weighted, T2-weighted, zero-echo time (ZTE), and two ultra-short echo time sequences with 20 μs (UTE1) and 2 ms (UTE2) echo times. CT data were manually segmented into air, soft tissue, and bone to obtain the RTP reference. Bias field corrected MR images were automatically segmented into the same tissue classes using a fuzzy c-means segmentation algorithm with multiple images as input. Similarities between segmented CT and automatic segmented MR (ASMR) images were evaluated using Dice coefficient. Three ASMR images with high similarity index were used for further RTP. Three beam arrangements were investigated. Dose distributions were compared by analysing dose volume histograms. The highest Dice coefficients were obtained for the ZTE-UTE2 combination and for the T1-UTE1-T2 combination when ZTE was unavailable. Both combinations, along with UTE1-UTE2, often used to generate ASMR images, were used for further RTP. Using 1 beam, MR based RTP underestimated the dose to be delivered to the target (range: 1.4%-7.6%). When more complex beam configurations were used, the calculated dose using the ZTE-UTE2 combination was the most accurate, with 0.7% deviation from CT, compared to 0.8% for T1-UTE1-T2 and 1.7% for UTE1-UTE2. The presented MR-only based workflow for RTP on a SARRP enables both accurate organ delineation and dose calculations using multiple MR sequences. This method can be useful in longitudinal studies where CT’s cumulative radiation dose might contribute to the total dose.

Gutierrez S, Descamps B, Vanhove C.

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