Image-guided thermal ablation with MR-based thermometry

Mingming Zhu, Ziqi Sun, Chin K. Ng


Thermal ablation techniques such as radiofrequency, microwave, high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and laser have been used as minimally invasive strategies for the treatment of variety of cancers. MR thermometry methods are readily available for monitoring thermal distribution and deposition in real time, leading to decrease of incidents of normal tissue damage around targeted lesion. HIFU and laser-induced thermal therapy (LITT) are the two widely accepted tumor ablation techniques because of their compatibility with MR systems. MRI provides multiple temperature dependent parameters for thermal imaging, such as signal intensity, T1, T2, diffusion coefficient, magnetization transfer, proton resonance frequency shift (PRFS, including phase imaging and spectroscopy) as well as frequency shift of temperature sensitive contrast agents. Absolute temperature mapping techniques, including both spectroscopic imaging using metabolites as a reference and phase imaging using fat as a reference, are immune to susceptibility effects and are not dependent on phase differences. These techniques are intrinsically more reliable than relative temperature measurement by phase mapping methods. If the limitation of low temporal and spatial resolution could be overcome, these methods may be preferred for MR-guided thermal ablation systems. As of today, the most popular MR thermal imaging method applied in tumor thermal ablation surgery is, however, still PRFS based phase mapping technique, which only provides relative temperature change and is prone to motion artifacts.