Brain Shift in Neuronavigation of Brain Tumors: An Updated Review of Intra-Operative Ultrasound Applications

Front Oncol. 2021 Feb 8;10:618837. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2020.618837. eCollection 2020.


Neuronavigation using pre-operative imaging data for neurosurgical guidance is a ubiquitous tool for the planning and resection of oncologic brain disease. These systems are rendered unreliable when brain shift invalidates the patient-image registration. Our previous review in 2015, Brain shift in neuronavigation of brain tumours: A review offered a new taxonomy, classification system, and a historical perspective on the causes, measurement, and pre- and intra-operative compensation of this phenomenon. Here we present an updated review using the same taxonomy and framework, focused on the developments of intra-operative ultrasound-based brain shift research from 2015 to the present (2020). The review was performed using PubMed to identify articles since 2015 with the specific words and phrases: "Brain shift" AND "Ultrasound". Since 2015, the rate of publication of intra-operative ultrasound based articles in the context of brain shift has increased from 2-3 per year to 8-10 per year. This efficient and low-cost technology and increasing comfort among clinicians and researchers have allowed unique avenues of development. Since 2015, there has been a trend towards more mathematical advancements in the field which is often validated on publicly available datasets from early intra-operative ultrasound research, and may not give a just representation to the intra-operative imaging landscape in modern image-guided neurosurgery. Focus on vessel-based registration and virtual and augmented reality paradigms have seen traction, offering new perspectives to overcome some of the different pitfalls of ultrasound based technologies. Unfortunately, clinical adaptation and evaluation has not seen as significant of a publication boost. Brain shift continues to be a highly prevalent pitfall in maintaining accuracy throughout oncologic neurosurgical intervention and continues to be an area of active research. Intra-operative ultrasound continues to show promise as an effective, efficient, and low-cost solution for intra-operative accuracy management. A major drawback of the current research landscape is that mathematical tool validation based on retrospective data outpaces prospective clinical evaluations decreasing the strength of the evidence. The need for newer and more publicly available clinical datasets will be instrumental in more reliable validation of these methods that reflect the modern intra-operative imaging in these procedures.

Keywords: brain shift; image-guided neurosurgery; intra-operative ultrasound; neuronavigation; neurosurgery; registration.

Publication types

  • Review