Intraoperative functional ultrasound imaging (fUSi) has the potential to revolutionize brain surgery as it not only enables discrimination between tumour and healthy tissue based on vascular morphology, but also allows for real-time, cost-effective monitoring of brain functionality during awake neurosurgical interventions. Yet the awaiting revolution is obstructed by the technique’s inability to provide surgeons the so much needed four-dimensional (space and time) picture of the tumour and its surroundings. Unlike any other organ, the brain is constantly changing, especially during a surgical intervention and so its functionality can only be properly assed when it is viewed in its unique four dimensions.
In the 4DBrain project we, an enthusiastic team of neurosurgeons, neuroscientists and engineers from the Erasmus MC and Oldelft Ultrasound are committed to find out how this challenge of realizing 4D fUSi can be overcome. Firstly, we will carefully study the spatiotemporal foundations of the high-frame-rate ultrasound technology underlaying fUSi on the basis of comparative studies between Oldelft’s smart matrix sensor technology and a large custom build sensor array. These studies will teach us about the minimum and ideal sampling strategies, signal-to-noise levels and associated data rates for 4D fUSi to work. Secondly, we will study and develop novel image reconstruction algorithms that are needed to turn the raw data into meaningful movies of the brain.
In return, the 4DBrain project will lay the foundation for a new, cost-effective and much needed intraoperative imaging tool that can guide neurosurgeons in the daunting task of safely removing a tumour from the brain. This ground-breaking research and unique collaboration will not only ensure that we as the Netherlands stay ahead in technology development and research into new methods of ultrasound, but also contributes directly to a hopeful future where brain diseases can be treated better and better.