Three-dimensional method for comparing in vivo interventional MR images of thermally ablated tissue with tissue response

Michael S. Breen, Tanya L. Lancaster, Roee S. Lazebnik, Sherif G. Nour, Jonathan S. Lewin, David L. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate the ability of magnetic resonance (MR) to monitor radio-frequency (RF) ablation treatments by comparing MR images of thermal lesions to histologically assayed cellular damage. We developed a new methodology using three-dimensional registration for making spatial correlations. Materials and Methods: A low-field, open MRI system was used to guide an ablation probe into rabbit thigh muscle and acquire MR volumes after ablation. After fixation, we sliced and photographed the tissue at 3-mm intervals, using a specially designed apparatus, to obtain a volume of tissue images. Histologic samples were digitized using a video microscopy system. For our three-dimensional registration method, we used the tissue images as the reference, and registered histology and MR images to them using two different computer alignment steps. First, the MR volume was aligned to the volume of tissue images by registering needle fiducials placed near the tissue of interest. Second, we registered the histology images with the tissue images using a two-dimensional warping technique that aligned internal features and the outside boundary of histology and tissue images. Results: The MR and histology images were very well aligned, and registration accuracy, determined from displacement of needle fiducials, was 1.32 ± 0.39 mm (mean ± SD), which compared favorably to the MR voxel dimensions (0.70 mm in-plane and 3.0 mm thick), A preliminary comparison of MR and tissue response showed that the region inside the elliptical hyperintense rim in MR closely corresponds to the region of necrosis as established by histology, with a mean absolute distance between MR and histology boundaries of 1.17 mm, slightly smaller than the mean registration error. The MR region slightly overestimated the region of necrosis, with a mean signed distance between boundaries of 0.85 mm. Conclusion: Our results suggest that our methodology can be used to achieve three-dimensional registration of histology and in vivo MR images. In MR lesion images, the inner border of the hyperintense region corresponds to the border of irreversible cell damage. This is good evidence that during RF ablation treatments, iMRI lesion images can be used for real-time feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-102
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Histology
  • Image registration
  • Interventional imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Medical imaging
  • Thermal ablation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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