Interactive virtual simulation using a 3D computer graphics model for microvascular decompression surgery

J Neurosurg. 2012 Sep;117(3):555-65. doi: 10.3171/2012.5.JNS112334. Epub 2012 Jun 29.


Object: The purpose of this paper is to report on the authors' advanced presurgical interactive virtual simulation technique using a 3D computer graphics model for microvascular decompression (MVD) surgery.

Methods: The authors performed interactive virtual simulation prior to surgery in 26 patients with trigeminal neuralgia or hemifacial spasm. The 3D computer graphics models for interactive virtual simulation were composed of the brainstem, cerebellum, cranial nerves, vessels, and skull individually created by the image analysis, including segmentation, surface rendering, and data fusion for data collected by 3-T MRI and 64-row multidetector CT systems. Interactive virtual simulation was performed by employing novel computer-aided design software with manipulation of a haptic device to imitate the surgical procedures of bone drilling and retraction of the cerebellum. The findings were compared with intraoperative findings.

Results: In all patients, interactive virtual simulation provided detailed and realistic surgical perspectives, of sufficient quality, representing the lateral suboccipital route. The causes of trigeminal neuralgia or hemifacial spasm determined by observing 3D computer graphics models were concordant with those identified intraoperatively in 25 (96%) of 26 patients, which was a significantly higher rate than the 73% concordance rate (concordance in 19 of 26 patients) obtained by review of 2D images only (p < 0.05). Surgeons evaluated interactive virtual simulation as having "prominent" utility for carrying out the entire surgical procedure in 50% of cases. It was evaluated as moderately useful or "supportive" in the other 50% of cases. There were no cases in which it was evaluated as having no utility. The utilities of interactive virtual simulation were associated with atypical or complex forms of neurovascular compression and structural restrictions in the surgical window. Finally, MVD procedures were performed as simulated in 23 (88%) of the 26 patients .

Conclusions: Our interactive virtual simulation using a 3D computer graphics model provided a realistic environment for performing virtual simulations prior to MVD surgery and enabled us to ascertain complex microsurgical anatomy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Female
  • Hemifacial Spasm / diagnostic imaging
  • Hemifacial Spasm / pathology
  • Hemifacial Spasm / surgery
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Microvascular Decompression Surgery / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Multidetector Computed Tomography
  • Software
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / diagnostic imaging
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / pathology
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / surgery
  • User-Computer Interface*