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Surgical Planning Receives Assistance from 3D Images Generated by PET/CT Scans

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In the latest developments, researchers from the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at Jefferson Medical College have produced a three-dimensional (3D) image of a patient’s organs that surgeons can use to plan surgery.

This technology utilizes molecular positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) images of a patient to swiftly generate a 3D image of that patient, so that surgeons can envision the detailed anatomic structure, remove layers of tissue, and move around in space to see all regions of a tumor, before entering the operating room to remove 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 developed a surgical mock-up of human pancreatic cancer reconstructed from a patient’s PET scans and contrast-enhanced CT scans. Six Jefferson surgeons assessed the 3D model for accuracy, usefulness, and applicability of the model to actual surgical experience.

The surgeons reported that the 3D imaging technique would significantly help in planning a surgical strategy. Furthermore, the surgeons took note that the 3D image would be most useful if it were available in the operating room during surgery. The 3D image is designed to hasten the removal of malignant tissue, avoiding bleeding from unusually placed arteries or veins, according to the report published in the September issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

Surgery relies on palpating and influencing tissues in the operating room setting. As of today, surgeons only employ flat CT images and their imagination to visualize the anatomy surrounding the lesion to be removed, with the assistance of their own personal experience and judgment. The 3D image technology has the possibility to eradicate complications often arising during surgery caused by unanticipated anatomic complication.

Eventually, Haptic manipulators will be included the 3D visual image to give off a sense of touch and feel during the next stage of the development process. Such an advancement will offer a realistic setting to better determine an individual patient’s anatomy and pathology, and to efficiently plan and prepare for that particular patient’s surgical procedure.


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