‘Super-Resolution’ MRI May Help Plan Radiotherapy Treatment in Lung Cancer


Physicists from The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust combined standard two-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images of the chests of healthy volunteers to create 'super-resolution' videos, showing the lungs expanding and contracting.

The technique creates images of structures inside the body that are five times more detailed than other methods using MRI, and can also be carried out more quickly.

In a new study published by Freedman et al in Radiotherapy and Oncology, researchers said the technique could help to deliver more precise radiotherapy for diseases like lung cancer by helping doctors to predict the location of a tumor more effectively—even as it moves.

It also shows the potential of a specific type of MRI called T2-weighted MRI in dual imaging and radiotherapy systems that aim to image and treat tumors simultaneously, like the MR-Linac.

MRI Methods

In the study, eight healthy volunteers were scanned using standard MRI. Images were sorted and stitched together by computer to build accurate, high-resolution images of them breathing in and out.

The technique developed by ICR researchers also reproduces detailed images of 'slices' of the body, at any position or time, by combining multiple MRIs of the body from different orientations.

The high-definition images also have fewer 'artifacts' than standard MRI images—visible glitches caused by missing data that can obscure important structures in the body, compared with other similar techniques.

The technique could help to plan more accurate radiotherapy that could be adapted throughout the course of treatment as tumors shrink.


Study coauthor Martin Leach, PhD, said, “Radiotherapy treatment for lung cancer is currently planned using computed tomography scans of patients to measure their breathing patterns, but it's hard to see the tumor on these images, and so the radiotherapy delivered may not be effectively treating the cancer.”

Lead author Andreas Wetscherek, PhD, of the Radiotherapy Physics Modelling Team, said, “Our study describes the development of a new technique for rebuilding static MRI images into moving videos, which could give MRI the edge over CT scans in the future planning of radiotherapy treatment. It also shows the potential of moving T2 weighted MRI for systems like the MR Linac, which are being designed to image and treat patients with radiotherapy at the same time.”

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.