Photogrammetry of the Human Brain: A Novel Method for Three-Dimensional Quantitative Exploration of the Structural Connectivity in Neurosurgery and Neurosciences

World Neurosurg. 2018 Jul:115:e279-e291. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2018.04.036. Epub 2018 Apr 13.


Background: Anatomic awareness of the structural connectivity of the brain is mandatory for neurosurgeons, to select the most effective approaches for brain resections. Although standard microdissection is a validated technique to investigate the different white matter (WM) pathways and to verify the results of tractography, the possibility of interactive exploration of the specimens and reliable acquisition of quantitative information has not been described. Photogrammetry is a well-established technique allowing an accurate metrology on highly defined three-dimensional (3D) models. The aim of this work is to propose the application of the photogrammetric technique for supporting the 3D exploration and the quantitative analysis on the cerebral WM connectivity.

Methods: The main perisylvian pathways, including the superior longitudinal fascicle and the arcuate fascicle were exposed using the Klingler technique. The photogrammetric acquisition followed each dissection step. The point clouds were registered to a reference magnetic resonance image of the specimen. All the acquisitions were coregistered into an open-source model.

Results: We analyzed 5 steps, including the cortical surface, the short intergyral fibers, the indirect posterior and anterior superior longitudinal fascicle, and the arcuate fascicle. The coregistration between the magnetic resonance imaging mesh and the point clouds models was highly accurate. Multiple measures of distances between specific cortical landmarks and WM tracts were collected on the photogrammetric model.

Conclusions: Photogrammetry allows an accurate 3D reproduction of WM anatomy and the acquisition of unlimited quantitative data directly on the real specimen during the postdissection analysis. These results open many new promising neuroscientific and educational perspectives and also optimize the quality of neurosurgical treatments.

Keywords: Brain anatomy; Brain connectivity; Dense image matching; Depth of field; Photogrammetry; White matter dissection.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / surgery
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology*
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / surgery
  • Neurosciences / methods*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Photogrammetry / methods*