A fiducial skull marker for precise MRI-based stereotaxic surgery in large animal models

J Neurosci Methods. 2017 Jun 15:285:45-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.04.017. Epub 2017 May 1.


Background: Stereotaxic neurosurgery in large animals is used widely in different sophisticated models, where precision is becoming more crucial as desired anatomical target regions are becoming smaller. Individually calculated coordinates are necessary in large animal models with cortical and subcortical anatomical differences.

New method: We present a convenient method to make an MRI-visible skull fiducial for 3D MRI-based stereotaxic procedures in larger experimental animals. Plastic screws were filled with either copper-sulfate solution or MRI-visible paste from a commercially available cranial head marker. The screw fiducials were inserted in the animal skulls and T1 weighted MRI was performed allowing identification of the inserted skull marker.

Results: Both types of fiducial markers were clearly visible on the MRÍs. This allows high precision in the stereotaxic space.

Comparison with existing method: The use of skull bone based fiducial markers gives high precision for both targeting and evaluation of stereotaxic systems. There are no metal artifacts and the fiducial is easily removed after surgery.

Conclusion: The fiducial marker can be used as a very precise reference point, either for direct targeting or in evaluation of other stereotaxic systems.

Keywords: Functional neurosurgery; Göttingen minipig; MRI-compatible surgery; Pig; Stereotaxic surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Copper Sulfate / therapeutic use
  • Fiducial Markers* / standards
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Models, Animal
  • Skull / diagnostic imaging*
  • Skull / surgery*
  • Stereotaxic Techniques*
  • Swine / surgery


  • Copper Sulfate