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NeuroTouch: A Simulator for Brain Surgeons

Posted Sep 01 2009 10:47pm

The software has it’s first work out recently with simulating a surgical procedure on a woman before the surgery was done.  The software and system was developed in Canada.  One physician commented to the fact that they are going to be like pilot simulators!  The surgeons themselves look image forward to the software being an excellent training ground for neurosurgery with tumors in and around the brain.  BD

NeuroTouch, the prototype simulator developed by Canada's National Research Council (NRC) and several other research groups, gives surgeons a dry run in virtual reality before entering the operating room, potentially reducing mistakes. 

First, patient data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is rendered into a 3-D, high-resolution model of an individual's brain. After the model is loaded into the system, doctors can touch and manipulate tumors and other virtual objects on screens in real time using a physical instrument resembling a scalpel. The instrument has six degrees of freedom and re-creates the force-feedback of the real tool and the varying resistance of tissue in brain regions with differing toughness. Meanwhile, photo-realistic on-screen imagery shows the simulated surgery, including bleeding and pulsing gray matter.

"This is the first simulator to fully integrate medical image processing, material models, finite element modeling, graphics, and haptics technologies to create a patient-specific simulation," says Ryan D'Arcy, an NRC neuroscientist who helped develop NeuroTouch. "One other notable feature is the incorporation of functional brain mapping data from fMRI." This allows critical brain regions, such as speech areas, to be imaged more accurately, D'Arcy says.

Technology Review: A Simulator for Brain Surgeons

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