Case report: High-resolution, intra-operative mu Doppler-imaging of spinal cord hemangioblastoma

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Surgical resection of spinal cord hemangioblastomas remains a challenging endeavor: the neurosurgeon’s aim to reach total tumor resections directly endangers their aim to minimize post-operative neurological deficits. The currently available tools to guide the neurosurgeon’s intra-operative decision-making consist mostly of pre-operative imaging techniques such as MRI or MRA, which cannot cater to intra-operative changes in field of view. For a while now, spinal cord surgeons have adopted ultrasound and its submodalities such as Doppler and CEUS as intra-operative techniques, given their many benefits such as real-time feedback, mobility and ease of use. However, for highly vascularized lesions such as hemangioblastomas, which contain up to capillary-level microvasculature, having access to higher-resolution intra-operative vascular imaging could potentially be highly beneficial. µDoppler-imaging is a new imaging modality especially fit for high-resolution hemodynamic imaging. Over the last decade, µDoppler-imaging has emerged as a high-resolution, contrast-free sonography-based technique which relies on High-Frame-Rate (HFR)-ultrasound and subsequent Doppler processing. In contrast to conventional millimeter-scale (Doppler) ultrasound, the µDoppler technique has a higher sensitivity to detect slow flow in the entire field-of-view which allows for unprecedented visualization of blood flow down to sub-millimeter resolution. In contrast to CEUS, µDoppler is able to image high-resolution details continuously, without being contrast bolus-dependent. Previously, our team has demonstrated the use of this technique in the context of functional brain mapping during awake brain tumor resections and surgical resections of cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVM). However, the application of µDoppler-imaging in the context of the spinal cord has remained restricted to a handful of mostly pre-clinical animal studies. Here we describe the first application of µDoppler-imaging in the case of a patient with two thoracic spinal hemangioblastomas. We demonstrate how µDoppler is able to identify intra-operatively and with high-resolution, hemodynamic features of the lesion. In contrast to pre-operative MRA, µDoppler could identify intralesional vascular details, in real-time during the surgical procedure. Additionally, we show highly detailed post-resection images of physiological human spinal cord anatomy. Finally, we discuss the necessary future steps to push µDoppler to reach actual clinical maturity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1153605
JournalFrontiers in Surgery
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported was supported by the NWO-Groot grant of The Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) (Grant no. 108845), awarded to CUBE (Center for Ultrasound and Brain-Imaging @ Erasmus MC, see for website: CIDZ is funded by Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO-ALW 824.02.001), the Dutch Organization for Medical Sciences (ZonMW 91120067), Medical Neuro-Delta (MD 01092019-31082023), INTENSE LSH-NWO (TTW/00798883), ERC-adv (GA-294775) and ERC-POC (nrs. 737619 and 768914), Vriendenfonds and Van Raamsdonk fonds (NIN), as well as the NWO-Gravitation Program (DBI2).

Publisher Copyright:
2023 Soloukey, Verhoef, Generowicz, De Zeeuw, Koekkoek, Vincent, Dirven, Harhangi and Kruizinga.


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