Evaluation of an automatic MR-based gold fiducial marker localisation method for MR-only prostate radiotherapy

Maspero, M, van den Berg, CAT, Zijlstra, F, Sikkes, Gonda G, de Boer, JCJ, Meijer, GJ, Kerkmeijer, LGW, Viergever, MA, Lagendijk, JJW, Seevinck, PR


Physics in Medicine and Biology 62 (20), p. 7981-8002


An MR-only radiotherapy planning (RTP) workflow would reduce the cost, radiation exposure and uncertainties introduced by CT-MRI registrations. In the case of prostate treatment, one of the remaining challenges currently holding back the implementation of an RTP workflow is the MR-based localisation of intraprostatic gold fiducial markers (FMs), which is crucial for accurate patient positioning. 

Currently, MR-based FM localisation is clinically performed manually. This is sub-optimal, as manual interaction increases the workload. Attempts to perform automatic FM detection often rely on being able to detect signal voids induced by the FMs in magnitude images. However, signal voids may not always be sufficiently specific, hampering accurate and robust automatic FM localisation. 

Here, we present an approach that aims at automatic MR-based FM localisation. This method is based on template matching using a library of simulated complex-valued templates, and exploiting the behaviour of the complex MR signal in the vicinity of the FM. Clinical evaluation was performed on seventeen prostate cancer patients undergoing external beam radiotherapy treatment. Automatic MR-based FM localisation was compared to manual MR-based and semi-automatic CT-based localisation (the current gold standard) in terms of detection rate and the spatial accuracy and precision of localisation. The proposed method correctly detected all three FMs in 15/17 patients. The spatial accuracy (mean) and precision (STD) were 0.9 mm and 0.5 mm respectively, which is below the voxel size of 1.1 × 1.1 × 1.2 mm3 and comparable to MR-based manual localisation. FM localisation failed (3/51 FMs) in the presence of bleeding or calcifications in the direct vicinity of the FM. 

The method was found to be spatially accurate and precise, which is essential for clinical use. To overcome any missed detection, we envision the use of the proposed method along with verification by an observer. This will result in a semi-automatic workflow facilitating the introduction of an MR-only workflow.