The use of magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy in the assessment of patients with head and neck and other superficial human malignancies

W. G. McKenna, R. E. Lenkinski, R. A. Hendrix, K. E. Vogele, P. Bloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The proper demarcation of diseased tissue is important for radiation therapy planning and treatment. The volume to be irradiated is usually identified on radiographs or on x‐ray computed tomography (CT) sections. Magnetic resonance (MR)‐derived images of the proton T2 relaxation times in small pixel elements, typically 0.5 mm2 or less, provide significantly sharper differentiation between normal and diseased tissue. The T2 values in tissue depend on the tissue composition, histologic condition, and physiologic environment within the tumor. Furthermore, for many tumors the histogram of T2 values has a clear biphasic distribution suggesting that T2 maps may be useful for the identification of necrotic or hypoxic regions within tumors. The distribution of T2 values within the tumor bed shows the general pattern that the T2 values are elevated with a range greater than that seen in normal muscle. Elevated T2 values are not by themselves diagnostic of malignancy; however, they demonstrate the heterogeneity of the microenvironment present within a tumor. The spatial distribution of T2 values is being explored as a method for computer assistance in the delineation of the target volume for treatment planning. In addition, MR P‐31 spectroscopic examinations were performed on 30 patients with squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Although hampered by muscle contamination in some P‐31 spectra obtained with surface coil profile localization techniques, significant trends can still be appreciated in our data. These trends include the following: (1) the P‐31 spectra from malignant tissue have well‐resolved spectral lines in the upfield region that correspond to Pi, phosphomonoester (PME), and phosphodiester (PDE) not usually seen in normal muscle; (2) the PDE/B‐ATP and PME/B‐ATP ratios are greater than unity in all cases; and (3) most of the tumors have higher PME peaks than PDE peaks. The P‐31 spectra from patients treated with ionizing radiation changed during and after therapy. Some of the changes could be associated with alteration of the tumor metabolic activity or synthesis and breakdown of lipoproteins. These studies suggest that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) studies may be useful for both radiotherapy treatment planning and the noninvasive monitoring of patients both before and during treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2069-2075
Number of pages7
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 15 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'The use of magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy in the assessment of patients with head and neck and other superficial human malignancies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this