BACKGROUND: Because of superior soft tissue contrast, the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a complement to computed tomography (CT) in the target definition procedure for radiotherapy is increasing. To keep the workflow simple and cost effective and to reduce patient dose, it is natural to strive for a treatment planning procedure based entirely on MRI. In the present study, we investigate the dose calculation accuracy for different treatment regions when using bulk density assignments on MRI data and compare it to treatment planning that uses CT data.
METHODS: MR and CT data were collected retrospectively for 40 patients with prostate, lung, head and neck, or brain cancers. Comparisons were made between calculations on CT data with and without inhomogeneity corrections and on MRI or CT data with bulk density assignments. The bulk densities were assigned using manual segmentation of tissue, bone, lung, and air cavities.
RESULTS: The deviations between calculations on CT data with inhomogeneity correction and on bulk density assigned MR data were small. The maximum difference in the number of monitor units required to reach the prescribed dose was 1.6%. This result also includes effects of possible geometrical distortions.
CONCLUSIONS: The dose calculation accuracy at the investigated treatment sites is not significantly compromised when using MRI data when adequate bulk density assignments are made. With respect to treatment planning, MRI can replace CT in all steps of the treatment workflow, reducing the radiation exposure to the patient, removing any systematic registration errors that may occur when combining MR and CT, and decreasing time and cost for the extra CT investigation.
2010. Vol. 5, 62- p.