Phantom-based characterization of distortion on a magnetic resonance imaging simulator for radiation oncology

Ke Huang, K. Huang, Yue Cao, Umar Baharom, James M. Balter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


One of the major issues potentially limiting treatment planning with solely MR images is the possibility of geometric distortion inherent in MR images. We designed a large distortion phantom containing a 3D array of spheres and proposed a three-dimensional (3D) approach to determine the distortion of MR image volume. The approach to overcome partially filled spheres is also presented. The phantom was assembled with a 3D array of spheres filled with contrast and was scanned with a 3T MRI simulator. A 3D whole-sphere or half-sphere template is used to match the image pattern. The half-sphere template is used when the normalized cross-correlation value for the whole-sphere template is below a predetermined threshold. Procrustes method was applied to remove the shift induced by rotation and translation of the phantom. Then the distortion map was generated. Accuracy of the method was verified using CT images of a small phantom of the same design. The analysis of the small phantom showed that the method is accurate with an average offset of estimated sphere center 0.12 ± 0.04 mm. The Procrustes analysis estimated the rotation angle to be 1.95° and 0.01°, respectively, when the phantom was placed at 2° and 0° from the ceiling laser. The analysis showed that on the central plane through the magnet center, the average displacement is less than 1 mm for all radii. At distal planes, when the radius is less than 18 cm, the average displacement is less than 1 mm. However, the average displacement is over 1 mm but still less than 1.5 mm for larger radii. A large distortion phantom was assembled and analysis software was developed to characterize distortions in MRI scans. The use of two templates helps reduce the potential impact of residual air bubbles in some of the spheres.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number774
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 6 2016


  • MR image
  • distortion
  • normalized cross correlation
  • sub-voxel accuracy
  • template matching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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