Planning nonlinear access paths for temporal bone surgery



Interventions at the otobasis operate in the narrow region of the temporal bone where several highly sensitive organs define obstacles with minimal clearance for surgical instruments. Nonlinear trajectories for potential minimally invasive interventions can provide larger distances to risk structures and optimized orientations of surgical instruments, thus improving clinical outcomes when compared to existing linear approaches. In this paper, we present fast and accurate planning methods for such nonlinear access paths.


We define a specific motion planning problem in \(\mathrm{SE}(3)=\mathbb {R}^3\times \mathrm{SO(3)}\) with notable constraints in computation time and goal pose that reflect the requirements of temporal bone surgery. We then present \(\kappa \)-RRT-Connect: two suitable motion planners based on bidirectional Rapidly exploring Random Tree (RRT) to solve this problem efficiently.


The benefits of \(\kappa \)-RRT-Connect are demonstrated on real CT data of patients. Their general performance is shown on a large set of realistic synthetic anatomies. We also show that these new algorithms outperform state-of-the-art methods based on circular arcs or Bézier–Splines when applied to this specific problem.


With this work, we demonstrate that preoperative and intra-operative planning of nonlinear access paths is possible for minimally invasive surgeries at the otobasis.

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Correspondence to Johannes Fauser.

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The research Project MUKNO II is funded by the DFG.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Fauser, J., Sakas, G. & Mukhopadhyay, A. Planning nonlinear access paths for temporal bone surgery. Int J CARS 13, 637–646 (2018) doi:10.1007/s11548-018-1712-z

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  • Minimally invasive
  • Temporal bone surgery
  • Statistical shape models
  • Nonholonomic motion planning
  • Curvature constraint
  • RRT