TACC Powers Surgical Simulations

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brainOver at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, Elizabeth Coyne writes that researchers are using TACC supercomputers for surgical simulations that could save lives. Through a grant from the NSF’s Accelerating Innovation Research Program, a group lead by David Fuentes is developing treatment planning protocols for laser-based brain surgery.

What makes these complex variables more predictable for a surgical operation is solid data,” Fuentes said. “The more data and images that can be acquired, the more confidence researchers and surgeons can have in planning surgical simulations.”

In late 2012, Fuentes’ team used TACC’s Ranger supercomputer to solve incredibly sophisticated and complex calculations. These calculations focused on particular treatment areas throughout the brain to achieve probabilistic simulations in bioheat transfer, which shows how heat moves throughout the brain due to the treatment laser. The researchers conducted many uncertainty quantification calculations, which allowed them to become very familiar, and confident, with their bioheat transfer model.

The future of laser surgery planning is looking bright. Groundbreaking GPU code supported by the NSF will make portable imaging systems more powerful, and the landmark uncertainty quantification paper further defines the possibilities for treatment planning.

We want to go bigger and see what we can do to push it — the next thing is to use a multiple GPU simulation on a cluster,” Fuentes said. “It’s amazing, the new opportunities that you can have with a bioheat transfer result that fast.”

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