Abdominal organ motion during inhalation and exhalation breath-holds: pancreatic motion at different lung volumes compared

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Eelco Lens
  • Oliver J. Gurney-champion
  • Daniël R. Tekelenburg
  • Zdenko Van Kesteren
  • Geertjan Van Tienhoven
  • Aart J. Nederveen
  • Astrid Van Der Horst
  • Arjan Bel

Colleges, School and Institutes



Contrary to what is commonly assumed, organs continue to move during breath-holding. We investigated the influence of lung volume on motion magnitude during breath-holding and changes in velocity over the duration of breath-holding.

Materials and methods

Sixteen healthy subjects performed 60-second inhalation breath-holds in room-air, with lung volumes of ∼100% and ∼70% of the inspiratory capacity, and exhalation breath-holds, with lung volumes of ∼30% and ∼0% of the inspiratory capacity. During breath-holding, we obtained dynamic single-slice magnetic-resonance images with a time-resolution of 0.6 s. We used 2-dimensional image correlation to obtain the diaphragmatic and pancreatic velocity and displacement during breath-holding.


Organ velocity was largest in the inferior–superior direction and was greatest during the first 10 s of breath-holding, with diaphragm velocities of 0.41 mm/s, 0.29 mm/s, 0.16 mm/s and 0.15 mm/s during BH100%, BH70%, BH30% and BH0%, respectively. Organ motion magnitudes were larger during inhalation breath-holds (diaphragm moved 9.8 and 9.0 mm during BH100% and BH70%, respectively) than during exhalation breath-holds (5.6 and 4.3 mm during BH30% and BH0%, respectively).


Using exhalation breath-holds rather than inhalation breath-holds and delaying irradiation until after the first 10 s of breath-holding may be advantageous for irradiation of abdominal tumors.


Original languageEnglish
JournalRadiotherapy & Oncology
Early online date20 Oct 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Oct 2016


  • Breath-hold, Motion, Radiotherapy, Upper-abdomen, MRI