Objective image analysis of real-time 3 D intraoperative USG
There is growing evidence that maximal surgical resection of primary intrinsic brain tumours is beneficial, both by improving progression free and overall survival and also by facilitating postoperative chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Hence, there has been an increase in the popularity of real-time intraoperative imaging in brain tumour surgery. The complex theatre arrangements, prohibitive cost and prolonged theatre time of intraoperative MRI have restricted its application. By comparison, intraoperative three-dimensional ultrasound (i3DUS) is user friendly, cost-effective and portable and adds little to surgical time. However, operator-dependent image quality and image interpretation remain limiting factors to the wider application of this technique. The aim of this study was to explore objective i3DUS image analysis and its potential therapeutic role in brain tumour surgery.
A prospective, observational study was undertaken (approved by the local Research and Ethics Committee prior to recruitment). Biopsies were taken from the solid, necrotic, periphery and brain/tumour interface of intrinsic primary brain tumours. Digital i3DUS images were analysed to extract quantitative parameters from these regions of interest (ROI) in the i3DUS images. These were then correlated with the histology of the relevant specimens. The histopathologist was blinded to the imaging findings.
Ninety-seven patients (62 males; mean 54 years) with varying gliomas (84 high grade) were included. Two hundred and ninety regions of interest were analysed. Mean pixel brightness (MPB) and standard deviation (SD) were correlated with histological features. Close correlations were noted between MPB and cellularity, and SD and intrinsic cellular diversity.
MPB and SD are objective measures reflecting the sensitivity of i3DUS in detecting the presence and extent of intrinsic brain tumours. They indirectly suggest heterogeneity, cellularity and invasiveness, providing information of the nature of the tumour, and also reflect the sensitivity of intraoperative US to detect the presence of residual intrinsic brain tumours. Development of this paradigm will enhance i3DUS use as an adjunct in brain tumour surgery. Optimizing its intraoperative application will impact surgical resection and, hence, patient outcome.