In the recent years, neurosurgery has been strongly influenced by new technologies. Computer Aided Surgery (CAS) offers several benefits for patients' safety but fine techniques targeted to obtain minimally invasive and traumatic treatments are required, since intra-operative false movements can be devastating, resulting in patients deaths. The precision of the surgical gesture is related both to accuracy of the available technological instruments and surgeon's experience. In this frame, medical training is particularly important. From a technological point of view, the use of Virtual Reality (VR) for surgeon training and Augmented Reality (AR) for intra-operative treatments offer the best results.
In addition, traditional techniques for training in surgery include the use of animals, phantoms and cadavers. The main limitation of these approaches is that live tissue has different properties from dead tissue and that animal anatomy is significantly different from the human. From the medical point of view, Low-Grade Gliomas (LGGs) are intrinsic brain tumours that typically occur in younger adults. The objective of related treatment is to remove as much of the tumour as possible while minimizing damage to the healthy brain. ... mehrPathological tissue may closely resemble normal brain parenchyma when looked at through the neurosurgical microscope. The tactile appreciation of the different consistency of the tumour compared to normal brain requires considerable experience on the part of the neurosurgeon and it is a vital point.
The first part of this PhD thesis presents a system for realistic simulation (visual and haptic) of the spatula palpation of the LGG. This is the first prototype of a training system using VR, haptics and a real microscope for neurosurgery.
This architecture can be also adapted for intra-operative purposes. In this instance, a surgeon needs the basic setup for the Image Guided Therapy (IGT) interventions: microscope, monitors and navigated surgical instruments. The same virtual environment can be AR rendered onto the microscope optics. The objective is to enhance the surgeon's ability for a better intra-operative orientation by giving him a three-dimensional view and other information necessary for a safe navigation inside the patient.
The last considerations have served as motivation for the second part of this work which has been devoted to improving a prototype of an AR stereoscopic microscope for neurosurgical interventions, developed in our institute in a previous work. A completely new software has been developed in order to reuse the microscope hardware, enhancing both rendering performances and usability.
Since both AR and VR share the same platform, the system can be referred to as Mixed Reality System for neurosurgery.
All the components are open source or at least based on a GPL license.