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Practical Application of Networks in Neurosurgery: Combined 3-Dimensional Printing, Neuronavigation, and Preoperative Surgical Planning

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Romero-Garcia, Rafael 
Oliver, Geoffrey 
Owen, Mallory 
Merali, Sakinah 


BACKGROUND: A plethora of cutting edge neuroimaging analyses have been developed and published yet they have not hitherto been realized as improvements in neurosurgical outcomes. In this paper we propose a novel interface between neuroimaging and neurosurgery for aiding translational research. Our objective is to create a method for applying advanced neuroimaging and network analysis findings to neurosurgery, and illustrate its application through the presentation of two detailed case vignettes. METHODS: This interface comprises a combination of network visualization, 3D printing, and ex-vivo neuronavigation to enable pre-operative planning according to functional neuroanatomy. Clinical cases were selected from a prospective cohort study. RESULTS: The first case vignette describes a low grade glioma with potential language and executive function network involvement that underwent a successful complete resection of the lesion with preservation of network features. The second case describes a low grade glioma in an apparently non-eloquent location that underwent a subtotal resection but demonstrated unexpected and significant impairment in executive function post-operatively that subsequently abated during follow-up. In both examples the neuroimaging and network data highlight the complexity of the surrounding functional neuroanatomy at the individual level, beyond that which can be perceived on standard structural sequences. CONCLUSIONS: The described interface has widespread applications for translational research including pre-operative planning, neurosurgical training, and detailed patient counseling. A protocol for assessing its effectiveness and safety is proposed. Finally, recommendations for effective translation of findings from neuroimaging to neurosurgery are discussed, with the aim of making clinically meaningful improvements to neurosurgical practice.



connectome, functional connectivity, imaging, networks, tractography

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World Neurosurgery

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Guarantors of Brain (unknown)
Alan Turing Institute (Unknown)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00005/6)
National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR/CS/009/011)