Objective: A major shortcoming of image-guided navigational systems is the use of preoperatively acquired image data, which does not account for intraoperative changes in brain morphology. The occurrence of these surgically induced volumetric deformations ("brain shift") has been well established. Maximal measurements for surface and midline shifts have been reported. There has been no detailed analysis, however, of the changes that occur during surgery. The use of intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging provides a unique opportunity to obtain serial image data and characterize the time course of brain deformations during surgery.
Methods: The vertically open intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging system (SignaSP, 0.5 T; GE Medical Systems, Milwaukee, WI) permits access to the surgical field and allows multiple intraoperative image updates without the need to move the patient. We developed volumetric display software (the 3D Slicer) that allows quantitative analysis of the degree and direction of brain shift. For 25 patients, four or more intraoperative volumetric image acquisitions were extensively evaluated.
Results: Serial acquisitions allow comprehensive sequential descriptions of the direction and magnitude of intraoperative deformations. Brain shift occurs at various surgical stages and in different regions. Surface shift occurs throughout surgery and is mainly attributable to gravity. Subsurface shift occurs during resection and involves collapse of the resection cavity and intraparenchymal changes that are difficult to model.
Conclusion: Brain shift is a continuous dynamic process that evolves differently in distinct brain regions. Therefore, only serial imaging or continuous data acquisition can provide consistently accurate image guidance. Furthermore, only serial intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging provides an accurate basis for the computational analysis of brain deformations, which might lead to an understanding and eventual simulation of brain shift for intraoperative guidance.