Date Published:2013 Jun
PURPOSE: The challenge of catheter-tip visualization for interstitial needle placement in gynecologic brachytherapy remains unmet. We evaluate an approach to actively track tip locations and visualize catheter trajectories and surrounding soft-tissue in real-time during an intervention. The methods include development of clinical needles with magnetic resonance (MR) tracked microcoils, an MR tracking and rapid imaging sequence and integration with a graphical workstation for visualization. METHODS: An active tracking device was built based on a commercial catheter which consists of a hollow tube and a central needle with microcoils at the distal end. An MR tracking sequence was developed (isotropic resolution: 0.6 mm, frame rate: 40 updates/sec). It runs continuously during navigation or interleaves with real-time imaging (3 frames/sec), where image position/orientation are automatically set to provide visualization of anatomy around the catheter. The catheter-tip position/orientation was passed to the workstation for visualization. Needle shapes were superimposed on pre-acquired high-resolution images or on the intra-procedural images. RESULTS: MR-guided catheter placement procedures were conducted in a gel phantom and an animal model. High-resolution 3D MR scans were acquired and loaded into the workstation for navigation. During insertion, the catheter tips were visualized advancing on a 3D anatomic model and on assigned planes. Real-time imaging with slice continuously updating at the instantaneous tip positions was also performed. Both methods served well to guide catheter placement. After insertion, complete catheter trajectories were rendered by recording tip positions as needles were pulled out and overlaid on the images, to support treatment planning. CONCLUSION: We demonstrated the feasibility of active catheter tracking and visualization in MR-guided brachytherapy. This will facilitate accurate and time-efficient catheter insertion by providing on-line identification of catheter position, and visualization of anatomy ahead of the catheter tip. This enables identifying preferential paths to target locations, and reduces the risk to critical organs. FUNDING SOURCES: NIH P41 EB015898; AHA 10SDG261039.