Liver resection surgeries are common procedures performed to remove a variety of cysts and cancers, intrinsic as well as metastatic. Liver resections are also done for transplantation purposes. Dangers lurk when removing parts of the liver because the dense and tortuous vasculature within can be hard to comprehend by the surgeon. Poorly placed incisions can disrupt the flow of blood and lead to the liver sustaining serious damage.
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing MEVIS in Germany have developed computer algorithms that ingest CT and MRI data and produce 3D models of the liver that point to challenges when making certain cuts. The system calculates the inflow and outflow of blood throughout the organ, while surgeons can try making virtual cuts on patient-specific models to understand the consequences. Moreover, the software highlights areas where risks are particularly great when working with a scalpel and even suggests routes that should minimize risk.
The system is already being used in clinical practice and it’s being evaluated for its accuracy and efficacy at helping to improve liver resections.