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Internal margin assessment using cine MRI analysis of deglutition in head and neck cancer radiotherapy. Med Phys 2011 Apr;38(4):1740-7 PMID: 21626908

Pubmed ID



PURPOSE: Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a promising treatment modality for patients with head and neck cancer (HNC). The dose distributions from IMRT are static and, thus, are unable to account for variations and/or uncertainties in the relationship between the patient (region being treated) and the beam. Organ motion comprises one such source of this uncertainty, introduced by physiological variation in the position, size, and shape of organs during treatment. In the head and neck, the predominant source of this variation arises from deglutition (swallowing). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether cinematographic MRI (cine MRI) could be used to determine asymmetric (nonuniform) internal margin (IM) components of tumor planning target volumes based on the actual deglutition-induced tumor displacement.

METHODS: Five head and neck cancer patients were set up in treatment position on a 3 T MRI scanner. Two time series of single-slice, sagittal, cine images were acquired using a 2D FLASH sequence. The first time series was a 12.8 min scan designed to capture the frequency and duration of deglutition in the treatment position. The second time series was a short, 15 s scan designed to capture the displacement of deglutition in the treatment position. Deglutition frequency and mean swallow duration were estimated from the long time series acquisition. Swallowing and resting (nonswallowing) events were identified on the short time series acquisition and displacement was estimated based on contours of gross tumor volume (GTV) generated at each time point of a particular event. A simple linear relationship was derived to estimate 1D asymmetric IMs in the presence of resting- and deglutition-induced displacement.

RESULTS: Deglutition was nonperiodic, with frequency and duration ranging from 2.89-24.18 mHz and from 3.86 to 6.10 s, respectively. The deglutition frequency and mean duration were found to vary among patients. Deglutition-induced maximal GTV displacements ranged from 0.00 to 28.36 mm with mean and standard deviation of 4.72 +/- 3.18, 3.70 +/- 2.81, 2.75 +/- 5.24, and 10.40 +/- 10.76 mm in the A, P, I, and S directions, respectively. Resting-induced maximal GTV displacement ranged from 0.00 to 5.59 mm with mean and standard deviation of 3.01 +/- 1.80, 1.25 +/- 1.10, 3.23 +/- 2.20, and 2.47 +/- 1.11 mm in the A, P, I, and S directions, respectively. For both resting and swallowing states, displacement along the S-I direction dominated displacement along the A-P direction. The calculated IMs were dependent on deglutition frequency, ranging from 3.28-4.37 mm for the lowest deglutition frequency patient to 3.76-6.43 mm for the highest deglutition frequency patient. A statistically significant difference was detected between IMs calculated for P and S directions (p = 0.0018).

CONCLUSIONS: Cine MRI is able to capture tumor motion during deglutition. Swallowing events can be demarcated by MR signal intensity changes caused by anatomy containing fully relaxed spins that move medially into the imaging plane during deglutition. Deglutition is nonperiodic and results in dynamic changes in the tumor position. Deglutition-induced displacements are larger and more variable than resting displacements. The nonzero mean maximum resting displacement indicates that some tumor motion occurs even when the patient is not swallowing. Asymmetric IMs, derived from deglutition frequency, duration, and directional displacement, should be employed to account for tumor motion in HNC RT.

Author List

Paulson ES, Bradley JA, Wang D, Ahunbay EE, Schultz C, Li XA


Ergun Ahunbay PhD Associate Professor in the Radiation Oncology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
X Allen Li PhD Professor in the Radiation Oncology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Eric Paulson PhD Associate Professor in the Radiation Oncology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Christopher J. Schultz MD Chair, Professor in the Radiation Oncology department at Medical College of Wisconsin


2-s2.0-79953644699   9 Citations

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Carcinoma, Squamous Cell
Head and Neck Neoplasms
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Middle Aged
Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted
Time Factors
jenkins-FCD Prod-297 dff1a717c492f00bf6291286365f1f4fe95208f1