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Increasing usage of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in radiotherapy (RT) and the advent of MRI-based image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) suggests a need for additional training within the RT profession. This critical review aimed to identify potential gaps in knowledge by evaluating the current skill base in MRI among therapeutic radiographers as evidenced by published research.
Papers related to MRI usage were retrieved. Topic areas included outlining, planning and IGRT; diagnosis, follow-up and staging-related papers were excluded. After selection and further text analysis, papers were grouped by tumour site and year of publication.
The literature search and filtering resulted in a total of 123 papers, of which 66 were related to ‘outlining’, 37 to ‘planning’ and 20 to ‘IGRT’. The main sites of existing MRI expertise in RT were brain, central nervous system, prostate, and head and neck tumours. Expertise was clearly related to regions where MRI offered improved soft-tissue contrast. MRI studies within RT have been published from 2007 onwards at a steadily increasing rate.
Current use of MRI in RT is mainly restricted to sites where MRI offers a considerable imaging advantage over computed tomography. Given the changing use of MRI for image guidance, emerging therapeutic radiographers will require training in MRI interpretation across a wider range of anatomical regions.
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