Antonio Bernardo Assistant Research Professor of Neurological Surgery

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Director, Microneurosurgery Skull Base Laboratory

Lesions of the skull base present a unique challenge to neurosurgeons. Special training is required to perform intricate surgery in the small recesses of the brain.

Visit the Weill Cornell Skull Base Surgery Laboratory

Most skull base neurosurgical approaches require dexterity with surgical instrumentation, specifically bone removal instruments, through restricted corridors that contain vital structures. This aspect of surgery demands that surgeons be proficient not only with the tools but also with the complex anatomy to be negotiated: the development of a sense of the anatomic relationships between neural and vascular structures encased by bone is critical and requires practice. A cadaver dissection laboratory environment is the ideal training arena for neurosurgical residents and surgeons. We have recently implemented a comprehensive, three-dimensional skull base microneurosurgery laboratory under the direction of Dr. Antonio Bernardo. In our skull base laboratory, complex approaches to the cranial base are performed on cadavers under conditions that simulate an actual operation as closely as possible.

The laboratory features 3D technology to pursue the following research and educational objectives:

1. Define cadaver prosection models to investigate new surgical routes to access intracranial targets.

2. To teach neurosurgeons and residents the visuospacial skills required to navigate through various skull base neurosurgical approaches.

3. To achieve adequate preoperative training and rehearsal of complex approaches to the cranial base

The laboratory is a state of the art facility which integrates exquisite cadaveric dissections, 3-D visualization, virtual reality, and computerized simulation for training of surgical procedures and visuospatial skills. A robotically controlled microscope is used for surgical planning and to perform skull base surgical procedures on cadavers. Surgical data are recorded in a 3D format and presented routinely in our specially designed 3D projection room.

The skull base surgical laboratory also features the use of a three-dimensional surgical simulator called interactive virtual dissection (IVD), which was developed by Dr. Bernardo. Virtual reality technology now permits the computed 3-D images obtained from cadaveric dissections to be manipulated with an intuitive immediacy similar to that of real objects and by engaging other senses, such as touch and hearing, to enrich the simulation.The IVD simulator allows surgeons and residents to practice procedures in an environment in which mistakes have no dire consequences, lowering the risk associated with training on human patients and establishing standards and optimization of specific procedures.

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Primary Affiliation

  • Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University