Measurement and analysis of brain deformation during neurosurgery

T. Hartkens, D. L.G. Hill, A. D. Castellano-Smith, D. J. Hawkes, C. R. Maurer, A. J. Martin, W. A. Hall, H. Liu, C. L. Truwit

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Recent studies have shown that the surface of the brain is deformed by up to 20 mm after the skull is opened during neurosurgery, which could lead to substantial error in commercial image-guided surgery systems. We quantitatively analyze the intraoperative brain deformation of 24 subjects to investigate whether simple rules can describe or predict the deformation. Interventional magnetic resonance images acquired at the start and end of the procedure are registered nonrigidly to obtain deformation values throughout the brain. Deformation patterns are investigated quantitatively with respect to the location and magnitude of deformation, and to the distribution and principal direction of the displacements. We also measure the volume change of the lateral ventricles by manual segmentation. Our study indicates that brain shift occurs predominantly in the hemisphere ipsi-lateral to the craniotomy, and that there is more brain deformation during resection procedures than during biopsy or functional procedures. However, the brain deformation patterns are extremely complex in this group of subjects. This paper quantitatively demonstrates that brain deformation occurs not only at the surface, but also in deeper brain structure, and that the principal direction of displacement does not always correspond with the direction of gravity. Therefore, simple computational algorithms that utilize limited intraoperative information (e.g., brain surface shift) will not always accurately predict brain deformation at the lesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-92
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received October 22, 2001; revised August 28, 2002. The work of T. Hartkens and A. D. Castellano-Smith was supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The Associate Editor responsible for coordinating the review of this paper and recommending its publication was J. Duncan. Asterisk indicates corresponding author.


  • Interventional MRI
  • Intraoperative brain deformation
  • Nonrigid image registration


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