Penn Neurosurgery goes 3D

Philadelphia 16 February 2006Neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania are now using virtual reality, three-dimensional (3D) imaging for surgical planning, evaluation, and education. Prior to walking into the Operating Room, Penn neurosurgeons can now use a Dextroscope to create interactive, 3D images of their patient's brain to plan the best surgical approach in dealing most effectively with a diagnosed condition.


"This superior technology provides remarkable advances in imaging and surgical planning for brain and skull-base tumours and epilepsy", stated Sean Grady, MD, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Penn. "It allows us to look at the brain in ways similar to how we would during surgery, and then plan the best technique for each patient before we even begin. This is of great benefit to the patient, because it results in a less-invasive surgical process, using smaller incisions."

The Dextroscope works by fusing multi-modality images, such as CT and MRI, into 3D volumetric objects that, when viewed through special stereoscopic goggles, are transformed into virtual reality, 3D images. The suspended brain images give surgeons a detailed advance visualization of the complex anatomical relationships and pathology of the patient's brain. Further, the images can be easily manipulated by the surgeons, in real time, by using a control mechanism and stylus that work in conjunction with the Dextroscope. Such hands-on interaction, including "virtual drilling" for surgical-path planning and tools to measure linear distances and curved surfaces in 3D space, permits the surgical team to plan and "test" their exact clinical approach.

The Dextroscope also serves as an educational tool for neurosurgeons at any level of expertise, teaching both basic anatomy and advanced surgical techniques. With this technology, the user can practise a procedure over and over. "The advanced imaging and planning capabilities that this technology offers is enhancing how we perform neurosurgery here at Penn", stated Dr. Grady.

Penn's Department of Neurosurgery covers the entire spectrum of disorders that impair the central and peripheral nervous system. Performing over 2000 operations each year, the Department provides superb patient care by embracing new technologies and integrating research with clinical practice. Penn Medicine is a $2,7 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is ranked nr. 2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked nr. 4 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1400 full time faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

Penn Health System comprises its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, consistently rated one of the nation's "Honour Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multi-speciality satellite facilities; and home health care and hospice. More news about the University of Pennsylvania can be found in the VMW December 2005 article Penn research permits first-ever visualization of psychological stress in the human brain.

Leslie Versweyveld

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