BACKGROUND: The purpose of this clinical study is to investigate the clinical feasibility and safety of a shuttle-based MR-linac connection to provide MR-guided radiotherapy.Methods/design: A total of 40 patients with an indication for a neoadjuvant, adjuvant or definitive radiation treatment will be recruited including tumors of the head and neck region, thorax, upper gastrointestinal tract and pelvic region. All study patients will receive standard therapy, i.e. highly conformal radiation techniques like CT-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) with or without concomitant chemotherapy or other antitumor medication, and additionally daily short MR scans in treatment position with the same immobilisation equipment used for irradiation for position verification and imaging of the anatomical and functional changes during the course of radiotherapy. For daily position control, skin marks and a stereotactic frame will be used for both imaging modalities. Patient transfer between the MR device and the linear accelerator will be performed with a shuttle system which uses an air-bearing patient platform for both procedures. The daily acquired MR and CT data sets will be digitally registrated, correlated with the planning CT and compared with each other regarding translational and rotational errors. Aim of this clinical study is to establish a shuttle-based approach for realising MR-guided radiotherapy for certain clinical situations. Second objectives are to compare MR-guided radiotherapy with the gold standard of CT image guidance for quality assurance of radiotherapy, to establish an appropiate MR protocol therefore, and to assess the possibility of using MR-based image guidance not only for position verification but also for adaptive strategies in radiotherapy. DISCUSSION: Compared to CT, MRI might offer the advantage of providing IGRT without delivering an additional radiation dose to the patients and the possibility of optimisation of adaptive therapy strategies due to its superior soft tissue contrast. However, up to now, hybrid MR-linac devices are still under construction and not clinically applicable. For the near future, a shuttle-based approach would be a promising alternative for providing MR-guided radiotherapy, so that the present study was initiated to determine feasibility and safety of such an approach. Besides positioning information, daily MR data under treatment offer the possibility to assess tumor regression and functional parameters, with a potential impact not only on adaptive therapy strategies but also on early assessment of treatment response.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published