We can all agree that brain surgery is right up there with rocket science in the “things that are really hard” category, but a new technique might make it just a little bit easier. Scientists at the University of Luxembourg, in cooperation with the University of Strasbourg, have developed a new method for guiding surgeons during brain surgery—and the secret lies in making a map of the brain in Lego-like blocks.
The team, lead by Stéphane Bordas, a professor of computational mechanics at the University of Luxembourg, developed a mathematical model and numerical algorithm that can help surgeons predict what they are dealing with in regards to brain injuries before they crack open any skulls, letting them virtually rehearse an operation and possible complications. That’s where the Lego comes in: The brain is made up of gray matter, white matter, and fluids, and the researchers used data from MRIs to break down the brain’s architecture into virtual Lego blocks, color coded to represent white, gray, or fluid.
The result was a color-coded “digital Lego brain” made up of thousands of blocks that can be used to help surgeons determine the nature of brain injuries. The more blocks the researchers use to model the brain, the more accurate the simulation. Eventually, the researchers hope to use the Lego map to give surgeons real-time data during operations.
The researchers published their findings in “IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering,” with the university announcing the news this week. Read more about the study here while putting together your Doctor Who Lego set.