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Open Access Research article

Stereoscopic virtual reality models for planning tumor resection in the sellar region

Shou-sen Wang*, Shang-ming Zhang and Jun-jie Jing

Author Affiliations

Department of Neurosurgery, Fuzhou General Hospital, Fujian Medical University, 156 Xihuanbei Road, Fuzhou, 350025, China

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BMC Neurology 2012, 12:146  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-146

Published: 28 November 2012



It is difficult for neurosurgeons to perceive the complex three-dimensional anatomical relationships in the sellar region.


To investigate the value of using a virtual reality system for planning resection of sellar region tumors. The study included 60 patients with sellar tumors. All patients underwent computed tomography angiography, MRI-T1W1, and contrast enhanced MRI-T1W1 image sequence scanning. The CT and MRI scanning data were collected and then imported into a Dextroscope imaging workstation, a virtual reality system that allows structures to be viewed stereoscopically. During preoperative assessment, typical images for each patient were chosen and printed out for use by the surgeons as references during surgery.


All sellar tumor models clearly displayed bone, the internal carotid artery, circle of Willis and its branches, the optic nerve and chiasm, ventricular system, tumor, brain, soft tissue and adjacent structures. Depending on the location of the tumors, we simulated the transmononasal sphenoid sinus approach, transpterional approach, and other approaches. Eleven surgeons who used virtual reality models completed a survey questionnaire. Nine of the participants said that the virtual reality images were superior to other images but that other images needed to be used in combination with the virtual reality images.


The three-dimensional virtual reality models were helpful for individualized planning of surgery in the sellar region. Virtual reality appears to be promising as a valuable tool for sellar region surgery in the future.

Dextroscope; Three-dimensional reconstructionm; Transsphenoidal approach; Sellar tumor; Surgery simulation