To test a free-breathing MRI protocol for anatomical and functional assessment during lung cancer radiotherapy by assessing two non-Cartesian acquisition schemes based on T1 weighted 3D gradient recall echo sequence: (i) stack-of stars (StarVIBE) and (ii) spiral (SpiralVIBE) trajectories. Methods:
MR images on five healthy volunteers were acquired on a wide bore 3T scanner (MAGNETOM Skyra, Siemens Healthcare, Erlangen, Germany). Anatomical image quality was assessed on: (1) free breathing (StarVIBE), (2) the standard clinical sequence (volumetric interpolated breath-hold examination, VIBE) acquired in a 20 second (s) compliant breath-hold and (3) 20 s non-compliant breath-hold. For functional assessment, StarVIBE and the current standard breath-hold time-resolved angiography with stochastic trajectories (TWIST) sequence were run as multiphase acquisitions to replicate dynamic contrast enhancement (DCE) in one healthy volunteer. The potential application of the SpiralVIBE sequence for lung parenchymal imaging was assessed on one healthy volunteer. Ten patients with lung cancer were subsequently imaged with the StarVIBE and SpiralVIBE sequences for anatomical and structural assessment. For functional assessment, free-breathing StarVIBE DCE protocol was compared with breath-hold TWIST sequences on four prior lung cancer patients with similar tumour locations. Image quality was evaluated independently and blinded to sequence information by an experienced thoracic radiologist. Results:
For anatomical assessment, the compliant breath-hold VIBE sequence was better than free-breathing StarVIBE. However, in the presence of a non-compliant breath-hold, StarVIBE was superior. For functional assessment, StarVIBE outperformed the standard sequence and was shown to provide robust DCE data in the presence of motion. The ultrashort echo of the SpiralVIBE sequence enabled visualisation of lung parenchyma. Conclusion:
The two non-Cartesian acquisition sequences, StarVIBE and SpiralVIBE, provide a free-breathing imaging protocol of the lung with sufficient image quality to permit anatomical, structural and functional assessment during radiotherapy. Advances in knowledge:
Novel application of non-Cartesian MRI sequences for lung cancer imaging for radiotherapy. Illustration of SpiralVIBE UTE sequence as a promising sequence for lung structural imaging during lung radiotherapy.