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Thermotherapies can now be guided in real-time using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technique is rapidly gaining importance in interventional therapies for abdominal organs such as liver and kidney. An accurate online estimation and characterization of organ displacement is mandatory to prevent misregistration and correct for motion related thermometry artifacts. In addition, when the ablation is performed with an extracorporal heating device such as high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), the continuous estimation of the organ displacement is the basis for the dynamic adjustment of the focal point position to track the targeted pathological tissue. In this paper, we describe the use of an optimized principal component analysis (PCA)-based motion descriptor to characterize in real-time the complex organ deformation during the therapy. The PCA was used to detect, in a preparative learning step, spatio-temporal coherences in the motion of the targeted organ. During hyperthermia, incoherent motion patterns could be discarded, which enabled improvements in motion estimation robustness, the compensation of motion related errors in thermal maps, and the adjustment of the beam position. The suggested method was evaluated for a moving phantom, and tested in vivo in the kidney and the liver of 12 healthy volunteers under free breathing conditions. The ability to perform a MR-guided thermotherapy in vivo during HIFU intervention was finally demonstrated on a porcine kidney.