Multi-contrast four-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (MC-4D-MRI): Development and initial evaluation in liver tumor patients

Lei Zhang, Fang Fang Yin, Tian Li, Xinzhi Teng, Haonan Xiao, Wendy Harris, Lei Ren, Feng Ming Spring Kong, Hong Ge, Ronghu Mao, Jing Cai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To develop a novel multi-contrast four-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (MC-4D-MRI) technique that expands single image contrast 4D-MRI to a spectrum of native and synthetic image contrasts and to evaluate its feasibility in liver tumor patients. Methods and materials: The MC-4D-MRI technique integrates multi-parametric MRI fusion, 4D-MRI, and deformable image registration (DIR) techniques. The fusion technique consists of native MRI as input, image pre-processing, fusion algorithm, adaptation, and fused multi-contrast MRI as output. Four-dimensional deformation vector fields (4D-DVF) were generated from an original T2/T1-w 4D-MRI by deforming end-of-inhalation (EOI) to nine other phase volumes via DIR. The 4D-DVF were applied to multi-contrast MRI to generate a spectrum of 4D-MRI in different image contrasts. The MC-4D-MRI technique was evaluated in five liver tumor patients on tumor contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), internal target volume (ITV) contouring consistency, diaphragm motion range, and tumor motion trajectory; and in digital anthropomorphic phantoms on 4D-DIR introduced errors in tumor motion range, centroid location, extent, and volume. Results: MC-4D-MRI consisting of 4D-MRIs in native image contrasts (T1-w, T2-w, and T2/T1-w) and synthetic image contrasts, such as tumor-enhanced contrast (TEC) were generated in five liver tumor patients. Patient tumor CNR increased from 2.6 ± 1.8 in the T2/T1-w MRI, to -4.4 ± 2.4, 6.6 ± 3.0, and 9.6 ± 3.9 in the T1-w, T2-w, and TEC MRI, respectively. Patient ITV inter-observer mean Dice similarity coefficient (mDSC) increased from 0.65 ± 0.10 in the original T2/T1-w 4D-MRI, to 0.76 ± 0.14, 0.77 ± 0.12, and 0.86 ± 0.05 in the T1-w, T2-w, and TEC 4D-MRI, respectively. Patient diaphragm motion range absolute differences between the three new 4D-MRIs and original T2/T1-w 4D-MRI were 1.2 ± 1.3, 0.3 ± 0.7, and 0.5 ± 0.5 mm, respectively. Patient tumor displacement phase-averaged absolute differences between the three 4D-MRIs and the original 4D-MRI were 0.72 ± 0.33, 0.62 ± 0.54, and 0.74 ± 0.43 mm in the superior-inferior (SI) direction, and 0.59 ± 0.36, 0.51 ± 0.30, and 0.50 ± 0.24 mm in the anterior-posterior (AP) direction, respectively. In the digital phantoms, phase-averaged absolute tumor centroid shift caused by the 4D-DIR were at or below 0.5 mm in SI, AP, and left-right (LR) directions. Conclusion: We developed an MC-4D-MRI technique capable of expanding single image contrast 4D-MRI along a new dimension of image contrast. Initial evaluations in liver tumor patients showed enhancements in image contrast variety, tumor contrast, and ITV contouring consistencies using MC-4D-MRI. The technique might offer new perspectives on the image contrast of MRI and 4D-MRI in MR-guided radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7984-7997
Number of pages14
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • 4D-MRI
  • 5D-MRI
  • MR-guided radiotherapy
  • multi-contrast MRI
  • tumor-enhanced contrast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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