Computer-assisted Spinal Navigation

Abstract

Computer-assisted spinal navigation technologies couple anatomic information with real-time visual feedback to assist surgeons in the operating room in treating disorders of the spine. Since their inception, systems for computer-assisted spinal navigation have been adapted to multiple imaging modalities. The efficacy of these systems has been shown to be at least comparable to that of conventional techniques for spinal surgery in terms of the accuracy of placement of prosthetic hardware in the spine, sizes of the incisions for the treatment of spinal disorders, and speed of the relevant procedures. In surgical procedures involving complex anatomy, computer-assisted spinal navigation can be an invaluable tool. Modern systems for computer-assisted spinal navigation are available from most major medical device manufacturers, and are being adopted in many tertiary care centers and medical practices specializing in treatment of the spine. This article reviews the basic concepts and components of spinal navigation technology and the literature relating to its efficacy. It also describes the utilization of spinal navigation technologies at two institutions and describes illustrative situations in which surgeons and patients have benefited from the use of this still-recent technology.

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