On their path into the brain, neurosurgeons must preserve important nerve fibers. This team’s see-through “safety margin” around the tumor [green] could help surgeons spot those fibers. Image: Universität Leipzig/University Hospital Tübingen
The white cylinder in this winning visualization shows one possible path to the tumor [in red]. Meanwhile, the “tumor map” at bottom left can indicate distances from the tumor’s center to important neighboring brain regions. Image: University of Münster/University Hospital of Münster
This psychedelic-looking brain highlights the neuronal fibers that reach the tumor [in red]. A ruler tool [blue line] indicates a distance of 6.6 centimeters from the tumor [top of ruler] to a selected critical motor area [bottom]. Image: Université de Sherbrooke
This view gives surgeons a sneak peek through the patient’s head at the location of the tumor and the neuronal fibers that cross the path. Toggle switches (not shown) allow surgeons to change which fiber tracts are visible. Image: University of Koblenz-Landau
The system shown here lets neurosurgeons view the brain’s neural tracts in stereoscopic 3-D. They can manipulate the image with a “3-D mouse,” such as a Nintendo Wii controller. The white spheres are the patient’s eyes. Image: CMSoft/University of Tohoku
A tumor deforms the colorful neuronal pathways in these three images. Red corresponds to paths inside the tumor; yellow indicates paths 5 millimeters away; green, 10 mm; greenish blue, 15 mm; and blue, 20 mm. Image: Technische Universität München/ KAUST/University of Utah/University of Konstanz/DFKI Saarbrücken
Green means go. The color of the lines in this display indicate the distance from the tumor to the brain’s surface, green being the shortest distance and red the longest. Image: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Here we see the brain structures surrounding the surgeon’s approach path [gray]. Magenta indicates a tumor; light coral, blood vessels; yellow, functional areas; and the tangle of rainbow colored strands are the neuronal fibers. Image: University of California, Davis
Plotting the path to a brain tumor first requires a map. As part of next week’s VisWeek conference, the 2010 IEEE Visualization Contest pitted graphics teams from both industry and academia against one another to see who could best draw that map. Each team transformed the same sets of MRI data into unique, and sometimes bizarre, pictures of the safest paths through the brain. Neurosurgeons decided the winner.
Next year’s contest to model the turbulence from a fluid pump is already accepting submissions.