MRI has become the gold standard for high contrast soft tissue imaging and the utilization of MRI in radiation oncology is continuously increasing.
The MRI’s role in the radiotherapy workflow has been largely limited to treatment preparation and treatment planning. The key feature of MRI of functional imaging for tissue characterization, which hold the prospect of further personalizing radiation oncology to each individual patient, is only recently explored. More specifically, functional imaging offers great opportunities for improved structure segmentation as well as response assessment after and even during radiotherapy.
The Department of Radiation Oncology has a long standing experience with imaging workflows that combine CT and MR imaging for different radiotherapy applications and MRI guided brachytherapy, for which we use high-field as well as low-field MR scanners. Build upon this MRI infrastructure, the advantages of MRI-only treatment concepts and their potential benefit for patients is explored and compared to conventional methods.
Our projects include the design and implementation of quality assurance procedures for MRI-based external radiotherapy and brachytherapy, the development of new treatment concepts with adaptive protocols that allow to record delivered doses more precisely based on MR imaging of the day, the definition of new workflows for MRI-only treatment planning and verification, including the generation of synthetic CTs, as well as studies involving functional MRI for improved tumor characterisation. As none of these novel workflows are currently standard procedures the field requires all our creativity, clinical and technical knowhow, as well as close collaboration with expert teams at our university. The interdisciplinary challenge is closely linked to all other research groups.