Indexed on: 06 May '08Published on: 06 May '08Published in: Medical Dosimetry
Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) relies on the quality of fused images to yield accurate and reproducible patient setup prior to dose delivery. The registration of 2 image datasets can be characterized as hardware-based or software-based image fusion. Hardware-based image fusion is performed by hybrid scanners that combine 2 distinct medical imaging modalities such as positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) into a single device. In hybrid scanners, the patient maintains the same position during both studies making the fusion of image data sets simple. However, it cannot perform temporal image registration where image datasets are acquired at different times. On the other hand, software-based image fusion technique can merge image datasets taken at different times or with different medical imaging modalities. Software-based image fusion can be performed either manually, using landmarks, or automatically. In the automatic image fusion method, the best fit is evaluated using mutual information coefficient. Manual image fusion is typically performed at dose planning and for patient setup prior to dose delivery for IGRT. The fusion of orthogonal live radiographic images taken prior to dose delivery to digitally reconstructed radiographs will be presented. Although manual image fusion has been routinely used, the use of fiducial markers has shortened the fusion time. Automated image fusion should be possible for IGRT because the image datasets are derived basically from the same imaging modality, resulting in further shortening the fusion time. The advantages and limitations of both hardware-based and software-based image fusion methodologies are discussed.