Doctors Navigate in Surgery Using ComputersEarly explorers navigated by the stars in the sky. Today navigational tools are often computer-assisted. Even in the operating room, doctors rely on computers to guide them.
This study compares the use of a surgical navigational system with the standard manual method. The navigational system includes a camera and computer together. These tools convert CT scanning data to three-dimensional images. This is called real time imaging.
The patients all had neck (cervical) problems that required fusion. Screws used to hold the spine in place were put in with a computer-assisted system. The doctor could see each step of the screw insertion in 3-D on a TV screen. The results were compared with patients having the same operation by hand.
There were no cases of nerve or blood vessel damage using the navigational system. Likewise, the screws didnât punch too far through the bone. On the other hand, manual screw insertion had a 6.5 percent rate of complications.
The authors report this navigational system is a good tool for putting screws safely in the cervical spine. They conclude this study shows the computer-assisted surgery is more accurate with fewer complications. It can be used for patients with small or deformed pedicles. The pedicle is the column of bone where the screw is placed.
This was a small study with only 17 patients having computer-assisted navigational surgery. A larger study is planned next.
Yoshihisa Kotani, MD, et al. Improved Accuracy of Computer-Assisted Cervical Pedicle Screw Insertion. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. October 2003. Vol. 99. No. 3. Pp. 257-263.
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