Posted on 8 July 2019 by Jessica James
A common cause requiring invasive brain surgery is fatal pressure from swelling-induced deformation. In these situations, neurosurgeons will try to relieve pressure using decompressive craniectomies, wherein they cut into the skull to allow the brain to ‘bulge out’. This method is typically based on personal experience and contains the risk of leaving the patient with severe disabilities. During decompressive craniectomies, nerve fibers in the brain, known as axons, stretch, and run the risk of shearing, making this procedure a ‘last resort’ for surgeons.
Breakthroughs are being made in this area at the Stevens Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Oxford University, and the University of Exeter. Researchers have developed a workflow employing Simpleware software for medical image processing and generation of a Finite Element (FE) model of the brain to simulate craniectomies under different conditions. The use of these methods gives neurosurgeons insight into extreme tissue kinematics, enabling them to plan the shape and position of the craniectomy.