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Surgical Planning Helped by 3D images Created from PET/CT

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 31 Oct 2013
Researchers have developed three-dimensional (3D) images of a patient’s organs that surgeons can use to plan surgery.

This hologram-like display application employs molecular positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) images of a patient to quickly produce a 3D image of that patient, so that surgeons can visualize the detailed anatomic structure, take away layers of tissue, and move around in space to see all regions of a tumor, before entering the operating room to excise it.

“Our technology presents PET/CT data in an intuitive manner to help physicians make critical decisions during surgical planning,” said first author Matthew Wampole, PhD, from the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at Jefferson Medical College (Philadelphia, PA, USA). The researchers created a surgical simulation of human pancreatic cancer reconstructed from a patient’s PET scans and contrast-enhanced CT scans. Six Jefferson surgeons evaluated the 3D model for accuracy, usefulness, and applicability of the model to actual surgical experience.

The surgeons reported that the 3D imaging technique would help in planning a surgical procedure. Moreover, the surgeons noted that the 3D image would be most helpful if it were accessible in the operating room during surgery. The 3D image is designed to speed the excision of malignant tissue, avoiding bleeding from unusually placed arteries or veins, according to the report published September 24, 2013, in the journal PLOS ONE.

Surgery depends on palpating and manipulating tissues in the operating room environment. Currently, surgeons only use flat CT images and their imagination to envision the anatomy surrounding the lesion to be excised, with the help of their individual experience and judgment. The 3D image technology has the potential to eliminate complications frequently presented during surgery caused by unforeseen anatomic complexity.

Haptic manipulators to the 3D visual image to give a sense of touch and feel will be added during the next phase of the development process. That will provide a realistic setting to better determine an individual patient’s anatomy and pathology, and to effectively plan and prepare for that patient’s surgical procedure.

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