MRI is the optimal method for sensitive detection of tumour tissue and pre-operative staging in oral cancer. When jawbone resections are necessary, the current standard of care for oral tumour surgery in our hospital is 3D virtual planning from CT data. 3D printed jawbone cutting guides are designed from the CT data. The tumour margins are difficult to visualise on CT, whereas they are clearly visible on MRI scans. The aim of this study was to change the conventional CT-based workflow by developing a method for 3D MRI-based lower jaw models. The MRI-based visualisation of the tumour aids in planning bone resection margins.
Materials and findings
A workflow for MRI-based 3D surgical planning with bone cutting guides was developed using a four-step approach. Key MRI parameters were defined (phase 1), followed by an application of selected Black Bone MRI sequences on healthy volunteers (phase 2). Three Black Bone MRI sequences were chosen for phase 3: standard, fat saturated, and an out of phase sequence. These protocols were validated by applying them on patients (n = 10) and comparison to corresponding CT data. The mean deviation values between the MRI-and the CT-based models were 0.63, 0.59 and 0.80 mm for the three evaluated Black Bone MRI sequences. Phase 4 entailed examination of the clinical value during surgery, using excellently fitting printed bone cutting guides designed from MRI-based lower jaw models, in two patients with oral cancer. The mean deviation of the resection planes was 2.3 mm, 3.8 mm for the fibula segments, and the mean axis deviation was the fibula segments of 1.9 E.
This study offers a method for 3D virtual resection planning and surgery using cutting guides based solely on MRI imaging. Therefore, no additional CT data are required for 3D virtual planning in oral cancer surgery.