A Dixon Based Pseudo-CT Generation Method for MR-Only Radiotherapy Treatment Planning of the Pelvis and Head and Neck

Maspero, Matteo, Seevinck, PR, Meijer, Gert, Lagendijk, JJW, Viergever, Max A., van den Berg, CAT


Medical Physics 42 (6), p. 3316


Purpose: To develop an image processing method for MRI-based generation of electron density maps, known as pseudo-CT (pCT), without usage of model- or atlas-based segmentation, and to evaluate the method in the pelvic and head-neck region against CT. Methods: CT and MRI scans were obtained from the pelvic region of four patients in supine position using a flat table top only for CT. Stratified CT maps were generated by classifying each voxel based on HU ranges into one of four classes: air, adipose tissue, soft tissue or bone.A hierarchical region-selective algorithm, based on automatic thresholding and clustering, was used to classify tissues from MR Dixon reconstructed fat, In-Phase (IP) and Opposed-Phase (OP) images. First, a body mask was obtained by thresholding the IP image. Subsequently, an automatic threshold on the Dixon fat image differentiated soft and adipose tissue. K-means clustering on IP and OP images resulted in a mask that, via a connected neighborhood analysis, allowing the user to select the components corresponding to bone structures.The pCT was estimated through assignment of bulk HU to the tissue classes. Bone-only Digital Reconstructed Radiographs (DRR) were generated as well. The pCT images were rigidly registered to the stratified CT to allow a volumetric and voxelwise comparison. Moreover, pCTs were also calculated within the head-neck region in two volunteers using the same pipeline. Results: The volumetric comparison resulted in differences <1% for each tissue class. A voxelwise comparison showed a good classification, ranging from 64% to 98%. The primary misclassified classes were adipose/soft tissue and bone/soft tissue. As the patients have been imaged on different table tops, part of the misclassification error can be explained by misregistration. Conclusion: The proposed approach does not rely on an anatomy model providing the flexibility to successfully generate the pCT in two different body sites. This research is founded by ZonMw IMDI Programme, project name: “RASOR sharp: MRI based radiotherapy planning using a single MRI sequence”, project number: 10-104003010