Magnetic Resonance-Based Automatic Air Segmentation for Generation of Synthetic Computed Tomography Scans in the Head Region.

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International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics


PURPOSE: To incorporate a novel imaging sequence for robust air and tissue segmentation using ultrashort echo time (UTE) phase images and to implement an innovative synthetic CT (synCT) solution as a first step toward MR-only radiation therapy treatment planning for brain cancer.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Ten brain cancer patients were scanned with a UTE/Dixon sequence and other clinical sequences on a 1.0 T open magnet with simulation capabilities. Bone-enhanced images were generated from a weighted combination of water/fat maps derived from Dixon images and inverted UTE images. Automated air segmentation was performed using unwrapped UTE phase maps. Segmentation accuracy was assessed by calculating segmentation errors (true-positive rate, false-positive rate, and Dice similarity indices using CT simulation (CT-SIM) as ground truth. The synCTs were generated using a voxel-based, weighted summation method incorporating T2, fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR), UTE1, and bone-enhanced images. Mean absolute error (MAE) characterized Hounsfield unit (HU) differences between synCT and CT-SIM. A dosimetry study was conducted, and differences were quantified using γ-analysis and dose-volume histogram analysis.

RESULTS: On average, true-positive rate and false-positive rate for the CT and MR-derived air masks were 80.8% ± 5.5% and 25.7% ± 6.9%, respectively. Dice similarity indices values were 0.78 ± 0.04 (range, 0.70-0.83). Full field of view MAE between synCT and CT-SIM was 147.5 ± 8.3 HU (range, 138.3-166.2 HU), with the largest errors occurring at bone-air interfaces (MAE 422.5 ± 33.4 HU for bone and 294.53 ± 90.56 HU for air). Gamma analysis revealed pass rates of 99.4% ± 0.04%, with acceptable treatment plan quality for the cohort.

CONCLUSIONS: A hybrid MRI phase/magnitude UTE image processing technique was introduced that significantly improved bone and air contrast in MRI. Segmented air masks and bone-enhanced images were integrated into our synCT pipeline for brain, and results agreed well with clinical CTs, thereby supporting MR-only radiation therapy treatment planning in the brain.

Medical Subject Headings

Air; Brain Neoplasms; False Negative Reactions; False Positive Reactions; Humans; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Middle Aged; Multimodal Imaging; Skull; Tomography, X-Ray Computed

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