Image quality assessment of a 1.5T dedicated magnetic resonance-simulator for radiotherapy with a flexible radio frequency coil setting using the standard American College of Radiology magnetic resonance imaging phantom test

Oi Lei Wong, Jing Yuan, Siu Ki Yu, Kin Yin Cheung


Background: A flexible RF coil setting has to be used on an MR-simulator (MR-sim) in the head and neck simulation scan for radiotherapy (RT) purpose, while the image quality might be compromised due to the sub-optimized flexible coil compared to the normal diagnostic radiological (DR) head coil. In this study, we assessed the image quality of an MR-sim by conducting the standard American College of Radiology (ACR) MRI phantom test on a 1.5T MR-sim under RT-setting and comparing it to DR-setting.
Methods: A large ACR MRI phantom was carefully positioned, aligned and scanned 9 times for each under RT- and DR-setting on a 1.5T MR-sim, following the ACR scanning instruction. Images were analyzed following the ACR guidance. Measurement results under two coil settings were quantitatively compared. Inter-observer disagreements under RT-setting between two physicists were compared using Bland-Altman (BA) analysis and intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC).
Results: The MR-sim with RT-setting obtained sufficiently good image quality to pass all ACR recommended criteria. No significant difference was found in phantom length accuracy, high-contrast spatial resolution, slice thickness accuracy, slice position accuracy, and percent-signal ghosting. RT-setting significantly under-performed in low-contrast object detectability, while better performed in image intensity uniformity. BA analysis showed that 95% limit of agreement and biases of phantom test measurement under RT-setting between two observers were very small. Excellent inter-observer agreement (ICC >0.75) was achieved in all measurements except for slice thickness accuracy (ICC =0.42, moderate agreement) under RT-setting.
Conclusions: Very good and highly reproducible image quality could be achieved on a 1.5T MR-sim with a flexible coil setting as revealed by the standard ACR MRI phantom test. The flexible RT-setting compromised in image signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) compared to the normal DR-setting, and resulted in reduced low-contrast object detectability.