What is Image Guided Surgery for Spine?

Similar to a car or mobile Global Positioning System (GPS), image guided systems continuously track surgical instruments in relation to patient anatomy to guide the surgeon through spinal surgeries, enhancing accuracy even when using minimally invasive and percutaneous surgery techniques.

While spine surgeries are commonly performed and are considered to be a successful and reliable surgical intervention, surgeons often face several challenges during surgery. The neuro-vascular structures surrounding the spine are critical; therefore, the accuracy and surgical approach in spine procedures are key factors.

Furthermore, the advent of minimally invasive surgery requires enhanced and enriched data because the surgeon often has limited access to certain details of the patient’s anatomy, which can create additional challenges during surgery.

Surgical navigation may be advantageous for many different spinal conditions from cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back) and lumbar (lower back) procedures to complex deformity surgery, and tumor removal, also called resection.

Image guided surgery offers valuable visual guidance and measurement tools. The software also allows for treatment planning and simulation of the spinal implant placement before any screws, rods, cages, plates or discs have been placed.

There are many other benefits of image guided surgery.

  • More accurate placement of pedicle screws when compared with conventional surgery techniques.1
  • Drastically reduced X-Ray exposure for everyone in the operating room.2
  • Accurate planning and trajectory of incisions.3
  • Guidance for posterior incisions and approaches for minimally invasive implant placement.3
  • Safe implant placement, especially in anatomically critical areas.4

Without image guidance technologies, reported misplacement rates of pedicle screws are as high as 30% in the lumbar spine and as high as 55% in the thoracic spine.5

Talk to your doctor to find out if image guided spine surgery is an option for you.

1 Richter et. al., Cervical pedicle screws: conventional versus computer-assisted placement of cannulated screws. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2005 Oct 15;30(20):2280-7
2 Gebhard et al., Does computer assisted spine surgery reduce intraoperative radiation doses?
Spine (Phila Pa1976). 2006 Aug 1;31(17)

3 Wixson RL, MacDonald MA. Total hip arthroplasty through a minimal posterior approach using imageless computer-assisted hip navigation. J Arthroplasty. 2005;20(7 suppl 3):51–56. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2005.04.024. 
4 Mezger,M., Jendrewski, C., Bartels, M., Navigation in Surgery. Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2013 Apr; 398(4): 501–514.
5 Tjardes, T., Shafizadeh, S., Rixen, D., Paffrath, T., Bouillon, B., Steinhausen, E. S., & Baethis, H. (2010). Image-guided spine surgery: state of the art and future directions. European Spine Journal19(1), 25–45.