Liver surgery requires the highest level of precision as the organ is made up of a complex vascular architecture and is responsible for essential bodily tasks. Computer-aided 3D technologies can help surgeons to gain a better spatial understanding prior to surgery in order to reduce the connected risks.
A network led by the Center for Computing Technologies (TZI) at the University of Bremen has now developed 3D applications that especially support surgery planning, carrying out of the procedure, and the training of future surgeons.
Virtual model helps orientation during surgery
The planning of operative removal of parts of the liver – so-called liver resection – with 3D models offers great advantages. The CT and MRT images used in diagnostics only offer two-dimensional views. They are processed and become colored 3D visualizations in the VIVATOP project (Versatile Immersive Virtual and Augmented Tangible OP). “In this way, the spatial depiction of an organ can be turned, flipped over, manipulated, and used for detailed surgery planning in real-time – or during the procedure as an aid,” says project leader Professor Rainer Malaka from TZI. “Despite the large dataset that must be continually re-calculated when doing this, no delays occur.”
Automatically created shadows simplify the perception of depth within the organ, its complex arterial and venous vascular architecture, as well as their anatomical variations. Further functions enable the precise measuring of distances between two points and trigger a warning alarm if a planned incision would damage important blood vessels, for example.
VR and AR will play important role in future
One special feature is that the application users can use these functions in VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). Using standard VR headsets, an interdisciplinary team of doctors can discuss the procedure in detail before carrying it out and can turn and measure the organ by means of gestures.