Accuracy of abdominal organ motion estimation in radiotherapy using the right hemidiaphragm top as a surrogate during prolonged breath-holds quantified with MRI

Johannes K. Veldman*, Zdenko van Kesteren, Ebony R. Gunwhy, Michael J. Parkes, Markus F. Stevens, Joost G. van den Aardweg, Geertjan van Tienhoven, Arjan Bel, Irma W. E. M. van Dijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Respiratory motion presents a challenge in radiotherapy of thoracic and upper abdominal tumors. Techniques to account for respiratory motion include tracking. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guided radiotherapy systems, tumors can be tracked continuously. Using conventional linear accelerators, tracking of lung tumors is possible by determining tumor motion on kilo voltage (kV) imaging. But tracking of abdominal tumors with kV imaging is hampered by limited contrast. Therefore, surrogates for the tumor are used. One of the possible surrogates is the diaphragm. However, there is no universal method for establishing the error when using a surrogate and there are particular challenges in establishing such errors during free breathing (FB). Prolonged breath-holding might address these challenges. Purpose: The aim of this study was to quantify the error when using the right hemidiaphragm top (RHT) as surrogate for abdominal organ motion during prolonged breath-holds (PBH) for possible application in radiation treatments. Methods: Fifteen healthy volunteers were trained to perform PBHs in two subsequent MRI sessions (PBH-MRI1 and PBH-MRI2). From each MRI acquisition, we selected seven images (dynamics) to determine organ displacement during PBH by using deformable image registration (DIR). On the first dynamic, the RHT, right and left hemidiaphragm, liver, spleen and right and left kidney were segmented. We used the deformation vector fields (DVF), generated by DIR, to determine the displacement of each organ between two dynamics in inferior-superior (IS), anterior-posterior (AP), left-right (LR) direction and we calculated the 3D vector magnitude (|d|). The displacements of the RHT, both hemidiaphragms and the abdominal organs were compared using a linear fit to determine the correlation (R2 of the fit) and the displacement ratio (DR, slope of the fit) between displacements of the RHT and each organ. We quantified the median difference between the DRs of PBH-MRI1 and PBH-MRI2 for each organ. Additionally, we estimated organ displacement in the second PBH by applying the DR from the first PBH to the displacement of the RHT measured during the second PBH. We compared the estimated organ displacement to the measured organ displacement during the second PBH. The difference between the two values was defined as the estimation error of using the RHT as a surrogate and assuming a constant DR over MRI sessions. Results: The linear relationships were confirmed by the high R2 values of the linear fit between the displacements of the RHT and the abdominal organs (R2 > 0.96) in the IS and AP direction and |d|, and high to moderate correlations in the LR direction (0.93 > R2 > 0.64). The median DR difference between PBH-MRI1 and PBH-MRI2 varied between 0.13 and 0.31 for all organs. The median estimation error of the RHT as a surrogate varied between 0.4 and 0.8 mm/min for all organs. Conclusion: The RHT could serve as an accurate surrogate for abdominal organ motion during radiation treatments, for example, in tracking, provided the error of the RHT as motion surrogate is taken into account in the margins. Trial registration: The study was registered in the Netherlands Trial Register (NL7603).
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical Physics
Early online date2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

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