Reconstruction of a time-averaged midposition CT scan for radiotherapy planning of lung cancer patients using deformable registration.

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PURPOSE: lower lobe lung tumors move with amplitudes of up to 2 cm due to respiration. To reduce respiration imaging artifacts in planning CT scans, 4D imaging techniques are used. Currently, we use a single (midventilation) frame of the 4D data set for clinical delineation of structures and radiotherapy planning. A single frame, however, often contains artifacts due to breathing irregularities, and is noisier than a conventional CT scan since the exposure per frame is lower. Moreover, the tumor may be displaced from the mean tumor position due to hysteresis. The aim of this work is to develop a framework for the acquisition of a good quality scan representing all scanned anatomy in the mean position by averaging transformed (deformed) CT frames, i.e., canceling out motion. A nonrigid registration method is necessary since motion varies over the lung. METHODS AND MATERIALS: 4D and inspiration breath-hold (BH) CT scans were acquired for 13 patients. An iterative multiscale motion estimation technique was applied to the 4D CT scan, similar to optical flow but using image phase (gray-value transitions from bright to dark and vice versa) instead. From the (4D) deformation vector field (DVF) derived, the local mean position in the respiratory cycle was computed and the 4D DVF was modified to deform all structures of the original 4D CT scan to this mean position. A 3D midposition (MidP) CT scan was then obtained by (arithmetic or median) averaging of the deformed 4D CT scan. Image registration accuracy, tumor shape deviation with respect to the BH CT scan, and noise were determined to evaluate the image fidelity of the MidP CT scan and the performance of the technique. RESULTS: Accuracy of the used deformable image registration method was comparable to established automated locally rigid registration and to manual landmark registration (average difference to both methods <0.5 mm for all directions) for the tumor region. From visual assessment, the registration was good for the clearly visible features (e.g., tumor and diaphragm). The shape of the tumor, with respect to that of the BH CT scan, was better represented by the MidP reconstructions than any of the 4D CT frames (including MidV; reduction of "shape differences" was 66%). The MidP scans contained about one-third the noise of individual 4D CT scan frames. CONCLUSIONS: We implemented an accurate method to estimate the motion of structures in a 4D CT scan. Subsequently, a novel method to create a midposition CT scan (time-weighted average of the anatomy) for treatment planning with reduced noise and artifacts was introduced. Tumor shape and position in the MidP CT scan represents that of the BH CT scan better than MidV CT scan and, therefore, was found to be appropriate for treatment planning.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008