Current status of augmented reality in cerebrovascular surgery: a systematic review

Neurosurgical Review (2022) 45:1951–1964

Augmented reality (AR) is an adjuvant tool in neuronavigation to improve spatial and anatomic understanding. The present review aims to describe the current status of intraoperative AR for the treatment of cerebrovascular pathology.

A systematic review was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The following databases were searched: PubMed, Science Direct, Web of Science, and EMBASE up to December, 2020. The search strategy consisted of “augmented reality,” “AR,” “cerebrovascular,” “navigation,” “neurovascular,” “neurosurgery,” and “endovascular” in both AND and OR combinations. Studies included were original research articles with intraoperative application. The manuscripts were thoroughly examined for study design, outcomes, and results.

Sixteen studies were identified describing the use of intraoperative AR in the treatment of cerebrovascular pathology. A total of 172 patients were treated for 190 cerebrovascular lesions using intraoperative AR. The most common treated pathology was intracranial aneurysms. Most studies were cases and there was only a case–control study. A head-up display system in the microscope was the most common AR display. AR was found to be useful for tailoring the craniotomy, dura opening, and proper identification of donor and recipient vessels in vascular bypass. Most AR systems were unable to account for tissue deformation.

This systematic review suggests that intraoperative AR is becoming a promising and feasible adjunct in the treatment of cerebrovascular pathology. It has been found to be a useful tool in the preoperative planning and intraoperative guidance. However, its clinical benefits remain to be seen.

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