Augmented Reality in Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery

World Neurosurg. (2023) 176:35-42

Spine surgery has undergone significant changes in approach and technique. With the adoption of intraoperative navigation, minimally invasive spinal surgery (MISS) has arguably become the gold standard. Augmented reality (AR) has now emerged as a front-runner in anatomical visualization and narrower operative corridors. In effect, AR is poised to revolutionize surgical training and operative outcomes. Our study examines the current literature on AR-assisted MISS, synthesizes findings, and creates a narrative highlighting the history and future of AR in spine surgery.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Relevant literature was gathered using the PubMed (Medline) database from 1975 to 2023. Pedicle screw placement models were the primary intervention in AR. These were compared to the outcomes of traditional MISS

RESULTS: We found that AR devices on the market show promising clinical outcomes in preoperative training and intraoperative use. Three prominent systems were as follows: XVision, HoloLens, and ImmersiveTouch. In the studies, surgeons, residents, and medical students had opportunities to operate AR systems, showcasing their educational potential across each phase of learning. Specifically, one facet described training with cadaver models to gauge accuracy in pedicle screw placement. AR-MISS exceeded free-hand methods without unique complications or contraindications.

CONCLUSIONS: While still in its infancy, AR has already proven beneficial for educational training and intraoperative MISS applications. We believe that with continued research and advancement of this technology, AR is poised to become a dominant player within the fundamentals of surgical education and MISS operative technique.

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