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Anatomical study of suboccipital vertebral arteries and surrounding bony structures using virtual reality technology

Wenbo Ha, DeLin Yang, Shixin Gu, Qi-Wu Xu, Xiaoming Che, Jin-Song Wu, Wensheng Li

(Department of Neurosurgery, 5th Hospital affiliated Harbin Medical College, Daqing, China (mainland))

Med Sci Monit 2014; 20:802-806

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.890840

Background: This work aimed to evaluate the efficacy of virtual reality (VR) technology in neurosurgical anatomy through a comparison of the virtual 3D microanatomy of the suboccipital vertebral arteries and their bony structures as part of the resection of tumors in the craniovertebral junction (CVJ) of 20 patients compared to the actual microanatomy of the vertebral arteries of 15 cadaveric headsets.
Material and Methods: The study was conducted with 2 groups of data: a VR group composed of 20 clinical cases and a physical body group (PB group) composed of 15 cadaveric headsets. In the VR group, the dissection and measurements of the vertebral arteries were simulated on a Dextroscope. In the PB group, the vertebral arteries in the cadaver heads were examined under a microscope and anatomical measurements of VA and bony structures were performed. The length and course of the vertebral arteries and its surrounding bony structures in each group were compared.
Results: The distances from the inferior part of the transverse process foramen (TPF) of C1 to the inferior part of TPF of C2 were 17.68±2.86 mm and 18.4±1.82 mm in the PB and VR groups, respectively. The distances between the middle point of the posterior arch of the atlas and the medial intersection of VA on the groove were 17.35±2.23 mm in the PB group and 18.13±2.58 mm in the VR group. The distances between the middle line and the entrance of VA to the lower rim of TPF of Atlas were 28.64±2.67 mm in PB group and 29.23±2.89 mm in VR group. The diameters of the vertebral artery (VA) at the end of the groove and foramen of C2 transverse process were 4.02±046 mm and 4.25±0.51 mm, respectively, in the PB group and 3.54±0.44 mm and 4.47±0.62 mm, respectively, in VR group. The distances between the VA lumen center and midline of the foramen magnum at the level of dural penetration was 10.4±1.13 mm in the PB group and 11.5±1.34 mm in the VR group (P>0.05).
Conclusions: VR technology can accurately simulate the anatomical features of the suboccipital vertebral arteries and their bony structures, which facilitates the planning of individual surgeries in the CVJ.

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