iPhone can provide accurate localization in brain surgery


A smartphone is a very personal tool we use to communicate with others everyday. But beyond emails, social networking and voice calls, a smartphone also can be used in many creative ways.

One such way is augmented reality (AR). AR is a live direct or indirect view of a real-world environment. In the environment, elements are augmented (or supplemented) by sensory input such as sound, videos, graphics or GPS data.

AR can enhance one’s perception of reality. This is very important in brain surgery, where doctors need to accurately localize the area for operation.

In a new study published in World Neurosurgery, researchers used iPhone to help localize brain area boundaries in 26 patients.

The patients had basal ganglia hematomas. It is a collection of blood at the base of the brain in an area called the basal ganglia. It can be caused by stroke, bleeding inside the skull, or very high blood pressure.

In the study, researchers scanned basal ganglia hematomas in each patient. The skin surface of the 3D model was then generated and digitally manipulated to remove the brain tissue around the hematoma area. The image of the hematoma was transferred to an iPhone 6.

After that, researchers used the iPhone to take the patient’s profile photograph. They ensured the iPhone was always parallel with the patient’ s head, and hence there was a minimum mismatch between 3D model and patient’s photo.

The iPhone photo and hematoma image were aligned together. Researchers could clearly see the anatomic landmarks of the ear overlapping clearly.

The whole hematoma localization process only took 10 min. The accuracy of the hematoma location was verified using CT scan.

CT scan showed that in 10 patients, the boundary deviation was 3.1 mm. In 16 patients who received surgery, the deviation in the hematoma center was 5.2 mm.

Researchers suggest that iPhone with a few iOS apps can provide high quality AR for surgery localization. The process is low-cost and costs little time, and it can be used in minimally invasive brain surgery.

Citation: Hou YZ, et al. (2016). iPhone-Assisted Augmented Reality Localization of Basal Ganglia Hypertensive Hematoma. World Neurosurgery, 94: 480-492. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2016.07.047
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