Last August 13th, the Gigabit Testbed South as well as the Siemens Nixdorf (SNI)/Fujitsu VPP700 with 52 processors, 115 Gflop/s and 104 GByte aggregated memory, were inaugurated at the Leibniz Computing Centre. The Gigabit Testbed South constitutes a high speed communication network infrastructure between the cities of Munich and Erlangen for a broad range of high performance computer networking (HPCN) initiatives. One of the medical applications relates to computer aided 3D planning and simulation of operations at the facial skull and was demonstrated by Dr. Hans-Florian Zeilhofer, who is responsible for this project at the Clinic and Policlinic for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of the Technical University of Munich.
Two main research topics, "Computer Aided Surgery" (CAS) and "scientific networking", particularly operation planning and simulation by means of medical Rapid-Prototyping-Models and synthetic 3D computer images, have played a major role in the creation of the Gigabit Testbed South by the German Research Network (DFN). The CAFCAS project, which deals with the use of broadband communication infrastructure for repetitive quality control and optimization of specifically the planning and simulation of complex interventions in the oral and maxillofacial region, includes a detailed processing of 3D image data in a tele-surgical scenario by means of interactive Artefact Elemination and Finite Element Modelling of the facial skull.
The ultimate goal consists of operation planning and simulation in a virtual reality environment, which is available in real time to the surgeon in the operating theatre. The name CAFCAS refers to Computer tomography with Artefact Elimination and Finite Element Models in Cybernavigational Assisted Surgery. The project has participating partners from the research group at the Clinic for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Munich, from the Institute for Radiology Diagnostics and both the Clinic and Leibniz Computer Centres, the Departments of Applied Mathematics, Statistics and Fluid Mechanics at the Technical University of Munich and the Medical and Physical Department of the University of Erlangen. The image data will be transmitted in real time between the partners at TU Munich and those at the University of Erlangen.
Maxillofacial surgery requires a high degree of accuracy in diagnostics, in operation planning and in the actual performance on the patient. Through the use of high speed data networks and high performance computers, the surgeon can rely on innovative technological means for 3D image processing. Data from different sources, such as computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR), ultrasound and positron emmitter tomography (PET) will be combined. The patient is no longer burdened with repeated examinations under full narcosis and only needs to be anaesthetized once for the actual operation. The data which have been collected during the pre-operative phase are analysed in various computer programmes by interdisciplinary specialists in different institutions. Afterwards, the results are transmitted to the coordinating surgeon.
Once the operation scenario has been decided on, the different steps are first being simulated as a last check-up before the pre-operative plan is effectively used in the operating theatre to assist the surgeon in real time during the intervention. We refer to the Web site of the Computer Centre Leibniz for more news on the CAFCAS project. Please, note that this site only offers information in German.