ASL Software Assists Neurosurgeons and Robots

Shelby Rogers

A free software program is helping neurosurgeons prepare for surgery. The Advanced Simulation Library (ASL) was utilized in the diagnostics and cognitive model of a medical robot. ASL simulated brain shift during a robot-assisted awake craniotomy.

asl[Image Courtesy of ASL]

The model includes many physical effects into its modeling. The large simulation comes with high resolution, but the software runs 100 times faster than the real time even if deployed on a regular laptop. The website notes the biggest benefit as such:

"This remarkable performance allowed to determine unknown patient and operation specific model parameters intra-operatively “on the fly” through iterative smart guessing and subsequent calibration of the intermediate results with the stereo camera observations."

Using this system, a full picture of the brain gets generated. These full images aren't normally available to the surgeon through things like ultra sounds, video cams or MRI. This information gets used by the robot and/or surgeon to navigate safely during surgery. It also allows for operative planning and determining the precise target location.

ASL's free and open source status gives it a variety of benefits.

"By being open, ASL also offers users complete freedom to extend and customize its functionality, either by themselves or by third party experts," their website notes. "Furthermore existence of a vital, supportive community guarantees long term maintenance and sustainability of the software."

ASL can also be adapted for other models. The website mentions physical and chemical experimentation as well as fields like fluid dynamics, virtual sensing and computer-aided engineering. This program could serve as a great and free tool for teams working on cross-field projects or anyone wanting to prepare a team before further research.