Functional neuronavigation combined with intra-operative 3D ultrasound: initial experiences during surgical resections close to eloquent brain areas and future directions in automatic brain shift compensation of preoperative data

I-A Rasmussen, F Lindseth, O M Rygh, E M Berntsen, T Selbekk, J Xu, T A Nagelhus Hernes, E Harg, A Håberg, G Unsgaard
Acta Neurochirurgica 2007, 149 (4): 365-78

OBJECTIVE: The aims of this study were: 1) To develop protocols for, integration and assessment of the usefulness of high quality fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) data in an ultrasound-based neuronavigation system. 2) To develop and demonstrate a co-registration method for automatic brain-shift correction of pre-operative MR data using intra-operative 3D ultrasound.

METHODS: Twelve patients undergoing brain surgery were scanned to obtain structural and fMRI data before the operation. In six of these patients, DTI data was also obtained. The preoperative data was imported into a commercial ultrasound-based navigation system and used for surgical planning and guidance. Intra-operative ultrasound volumes were acquired when needed during surgery and the multimodal data was used for guidance and resection control. The use of the available image information during planning and surgery was recorded. An automatic voxel-based registration method between preoperative MRA and intra-operative 3D ultrasound angiography (Power Doppler) was developed and tested postoperatively.

RESULTS: The study showed that it is possible to implement robust, high-quality protocols for fMRI and DTI and that the acquired data could be seamlessly integrated in an ultrasound-based neuronavigation system. Navigation based on fMRI data was found to be important for pre-operative planning in all twelve procedures. In five out of eleven cases the data was also found useful during the resection. DTI data was found to be useful for planning in all five cases where these data were imported into the navigation system. In two out of four cases DTI data was also considered important during the resection (in one case DTI data were acquired but not imported and in another case fMRI and DTI data could only be used for planning). Information regarding the location of important functional areas (fMRI) was more beneficial during the planning phase while DTI data was more helpful during the resection. Furthermore, the surgeon found it more user-friendly and efficient to interpret fMRI and DTI information when shown in a navigation system as compared to the traditional display on a light board or monitor. Updating MRI data for brain-shift using automatic co-registration of preoperative MRI with intra-operative ultrasound was feasible.

CONCLUSION: In the present study we have demonstrated how both fMRI and DTI data can be acquired and integrated into a neuronavigation system for improved surgical planning and guidance. The surgeons reported that the integration of fMRI and DTI data in the navigation system represented valuable additional information presented in a user-friendly way and functional neuronavigation is now in routine use at our hospital. Furthermore, the present study showed that automatic ultrasound-based updates of important pre-operative MRI data are feasible and hence can be used to compensate for brain shift.

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