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Minim Invasive Neurosurg. 2004 Aug;47(4):214-20.

Virtual endoscopy is a useful device for training and preoperative planning of transsphenoidal endoscopic pituitary surgery.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Medical University Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Virtual endoscopy (vE) allows simulated three-dimensional (3-D) visualisation of anatomical structures by computerised reconstruction of radiological images. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of vE and its potential benefits for endoscopic transsphenoidal pituitary surgery. vE was realised using a commercially available ray-casting software plugin of a picture archiving and communications system (PACS). For this study, the vE system was enhanced with volume segmentation, transparency and cutting tools. The data for vE were derived from high resolution computed tomography (CT) scans of 22 patients with pituitary pathology (20 pituitary adenomas, 2 Rathke's cleft cysts) preoperatively. Anatomic structures were identified on vE images and compared with the intraoperative endoscopic views. The simulated 3-D vE images were found to be comparable to the intraoperative endoscopic anatomy in terms of distortion and angle of view. vE was found to be particularly useful for the preoperative depiction of 1) the nasal anatomy and its variations for choosing the side of the approach, 2) the sphenoid sinus septae and chambers for improved intraoperative orientation, 3) the transparent 3-D simulated visualisation of the pituitary gland, tumour and adjacent anatomic structures in relation to the sphenoid sinus landmarks for planning the opening of the sellar floor. We conclude that vE harbours the potential to become a valuable tool in endoscopic pituitary surgery for training purposes and preoperative planning. Furthermore, vE may add to the safety of interventions in case of anatomic variations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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