Virtual cisternoscopy of intracranial vessels: a novel visualization technique using virtual reality

Magn Reson Imaging. 1998 Nov;16(9):1013-22. doi: 10.1016/s0730-725x(98)00113-1.


This paper introduces a different visualization method which we call "virtual cisternoscopy" using 3D MRA data sets. Virtual cisternoscopy uses well known tools, such as perspective volume rendering (pVR), fly-through techniques, and interactive visualization and combines them to a new approach featuring motion to resolve spatial relationships of intracranial vessels and vascular malformations. With a dedicated flight protocol extraluminal topography of intracranial arteries was analyzed using pVR. For evaluation of difficult vascular malformations extraluminal views are necessary. Therefore, movies of pVR views were produced simulating virtual tracks of neurosurgical flexible endoscopes, by flying around the intracranial vessels and vascular malformations within the cisterns. Endoluminal views were acquired additionally for precise evaluation of cases with complex vessel topography. Two healthy volunteers and three patients were examined. Comparing MIP and pVR images relevant advantages of pVR were found, such as depth information, perspective, lighting, and color. In contrast to MIP and source images of the MRA data set, virtual cisternoscopy of an aneurysm of the left middle cerebral artery demonstrated clearly an early origin of an artery in the region of the aneurysm neck/sac. In this case only virtual cisternoscopy led to the correct therapeutical decision. In a newborn, the type of a vein of Galen aneurysmal malformation could only be evaluated reliably by means of virtual cisternoscopy. The third case of a patient with a clipped aneurysm was evaluated more easily with virtual cisternoscopy than with DSA. In conclusion, virtual cisternoscopy may improve the pretherapeutic visualization of intracranial vascular malformations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Arteries / pathology*
  • Cerebral Veins / pathology*
  • Cisterna Magna / pathology*
  • Endoscopy / methods
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnosis
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnosis
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reference Values
  • User-Computer Interface*