Purpose: To present lessons learned from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) quality control (QC) tests for low-field MRI-guided radiation therapy (MR-IGRT) systems. Methods: MRI QC programs were established for low-field MRI-60Co and MRI-Linac systems. A retrospective analysis of MRI subsystem performance covered system commissioning, operations, maintenance, and quality control. Performance issues were classified into three groups: (a) Image noise and artifact; (b) Magnetic field homogeneity and linearity; and (c) System reliability and stability. Results: Image noise and artifacts were attributed to room noise sources, unsatisfactory system cabling, and broken RF receiver coils. Gantry angle-dependent magnetic field inhomogeneities were more prominent on the MRI-Linac due to the high volume of steel shielding in the gantry. B0 inhomogeneities measured in a 24-cm spherical phantom were <5 ppm for both MR-IGRT systems after using MRI gradient offset (MRI-GO) compensation on the MRI-Linac. However, significant signal dephasing occurred on the MRI-Linac while the gantry was rotating. Spatial integrity measurements were sensitive to gradient calibration and vulnerable to shimming. The most common causes of MR-IGRT system interruptions were software disconnects between the MRI and radiation therapy delivery subsystems caused by patient table, gantry, and multi-leaf collimator (MLC) faults. The standard deviation (SD) of the receiver coil signal-to-noise ratio was 1.83 for the MRI-60Co and 1.53 for the MRI-Linac. The SD of the deviation from the mean for the Larmor frequency was 1.41 ppm for the MRI-60Co and 1.54 ppm for the MRI-Linac. The SD of the deviation from the mean for the transmitter reference amplitude was 0.90% for the MRI-60Co and 1.68% for the MRI-Linac. High SDs in image stability data corresponded to reports of spike noise. Conclusions: There are significant technological challenges associated with implementing and maintaining MR-IGRT systems. Most of the performance issues were identified and resolved during commissioning.
- quality control