Objectives: A number of different image-guided surgical techniques have been developed during the past decade. None of these methods can provide the surgeon with information about the dynamic changes that occur intra-operatively.
Material and method: The first vertical open 0.5T MRI-scanner for intra-operative MRI-guided neurosurgery in Germany was installed at the University of Leipzig during the summer 1996. Since autumn 1996 a number of surgical procedures including biopsies (n = 31), craniotomies (n = 32), transsphenoidal procedures (n = 8) and interstitial lasertherapies (n = 3) have been performed using intra-operative MR image guidance.
Results: The development of MR-compatible and MR-safe non-magnetic instruments and components had to be solved. Specific surgical instruments were developed to perform biopsies, craniotomies, microsurgical tumour resections and transsphenoidal procedures in the 0.5-T open MRI. Several components required adaptation including the head holder the stereotactic navigation device, the high speed drill, the suction unit, the ultrasonic aspirator, the bipolar coagulation, the laser probe and the surgical microscope. All these newly developed technical features enable the neurosurgeon to perform a large number of surgical procedures under direct control and guidance of intra-operative MR imaging. In contrast to frame-based for framless navigation systems, intra-operative MRI provides accurate and immediate information during the progress of surgery. These intra-operative images allow definitive localization and targeting of the lesions and accommodate anatomical changes that may occur during surgery.
Conclusion: Intra-operative MRI is helpful for navigation as well as determining of tumour margins to achieve a complete and safe resection of intracranial lesions. Complications related to the surgical procedure are reduced and the risk of neurological deterioration due to tumour removal and postoperative complications is minimized. It can be concluded that the intra-operative application of interventional MRI technology may represent a major step forward in the field of neurosurgery.