Preoperative Microsoft HoloLens 2 planning‑assisted surgical clipping of a fetal posterior cerebral artery aneurysm

Acta Neurochirurgica (2023) 165:3371–3374

The treatment of intracranial aneurysms has predominantly shifted towards endovascular strategies, but complex cases still necessitate microsurgery. Preoperative stimulation can be beneficial for inexperienced young neurosurgeons in preparing for safe microsurgery.

Method A 72-year-old female with a left irregular fetal posterior cerebral artery (PCA) aneurysm underwent clipping repair. Microsoft HoloLens 2, utilizing mixed reality technology, was employed for preoperative stimulation and anatomical study. During the operation, we successfully identified the planned relationship between the aneurysm and the fetal PCA. The patient was cured without any complications.

Conclusion We hope that this report will highlight the significance of Microsoft HoloLens 2 in microsurgical planning and education.

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.

Augmented Reality–Assisted Percutaneous Rhizotomy for Trigeminal Neuralgia

Operative Neurosurgery 24:665–669, 2023

Percutaneous rhizotomy of the trigeminal nerve is a common surgery to manage medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia. Traditionally, these procedures have been performed based on anatomic landmarks with fluoroscopic guidance. Augmented reality (AR) relays virtual content on the real world and has the potential to improve localization of surgical targets based on preoperative imaging.

OBJECTIVE: To study the potential application and benefits of AR as an adjunct to traditional fluoroscopy-guided glycerol rhizotomy (GR).

METHODS: We used traditional fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous GR technique as previously described, performed under general anesthesia. Anatomic registration to the Medivis SurgicalAR system was performed based on the patient’s preoperative computerized tomography, and the surgeon was equipped with the system’s AR goggles. AR was used as an adjunct to fluoroscopy for trajectory planning to place a spinal needle into the medial aspect of the foramen ovale.

RESULTS: A 50-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis–related right-sided classical trigeminal neuralgia had persistent pain, refractory to medications, previous gamma knife stereotactic radiosurgery, and percutaneous radiofrequency rhizotomy performed elsewhere. The patient underwent AR-assisted fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous GR. The needle was placed into the right trigeminal cistern within seconds. She was discharged home after a few hours of observation with no complications and reported pain relief.

CONCLUSION: AR-assisted percutaneous rhizotomy may enhance the learning curve of these types of procedures and decrease surgery duration and radiation exposure. This allowed rapid and correct placement of a spinal needle through the foramen ovale.

A Sensorised Surgical Glove to Analyze Forces During Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery 92:639–646, 2023

Measuring intraoperative forces in real time can provide feedback mechanisms to improve patient safety and surgical training. Previous force monitoring has been achieved through the development of specialized and adapted instruments or use designs that are incompatible with neurosurgical workflow.

OBJECTIVE: To design a universal sensorised surgical glove to detect intraoperative forces, applicable to any surgical procedure, and any surgical instrument in either hand.

METHODS: We created a sensorised surgical glove that was calibrated across 0 to 10 N. A laboratory experiment demonstrated that the sensorised glove was able to determine instrument-tissue forces. Six expert and 6 novice neurosurgeons completed a validated grape dissection task 20 times consecutively wearing the sensorised glove. The primary outcome was median and maximum force (N).

RESULTS: The sensorised glove was able to determine instrument-tissue forces reliably. The average force applied by experts (2.14 N) was significantly lower than the average force exerted by novices (7.15 N) (P = .002). The maximum force applied by experts (6.32 N) was also significantly lower than the maximum force exerted by novices (9.80 N) (P = .004). The sensorised surgical glove’s introduction to operative workflow was feasible and did not impede on task performance.

CONCLUSION: We demonstrate a novel and scalable technique to detect forces during neurosurgery. Force analysis can provide real-time data to optimize intraoperative tissue forces, reduce the risk of tissue injury, and provide objective metrics for training and assessment.

Invention of an Online Interactive Virtual Neurosurgery Simulator With Audiovisual Capture for Tactile Feedback

Operative Neurosurgery 24:194–200, 2023

BACKGROUND: Present neurosurgical simulators are not portable.

OBJECTIVE: To maximize portability of a virtual surgical simulator by providing online learning and to validate a unique psychometric method (“audiovisual capture”) to provide tactile information without force feedback probes.

METHODS: An online interactive neurosurgical simulator of a posterior petrosectomy was developed. The difference in the hardness of compact vs cancellous bone was presented with audiovisual effects as inclinations of the drilling speed and sound based on engineering perspectives. Three training methods (the developed simulator, lectures and review of slides, and dissection of a 3-dimensional printed temporal bone model [D3DPM]) were evaluated by 10 neurosurgical residents. They all first attended a lecture and were randomly allocated to 2 groups by the training D3DPM (A: simulator; B: review of slides, no simulator). In D3DPM, objective measures (required time, quality of completion, injury scores of important structures, and the number of instructions provided) were compared between groups. Finally, the residents answered questionnaires.

RESULTS: The objective measures were not significantly different between groups despite a younger tendency in group A (graduate year À2.4 years, 95% confidence interval À5.3 to 0.5, P = .081). The mean perceived hardness of cancellous bone on the simulator was 70% of that of compact bone, matching the intended profile. The simulator was superior to lectures and review of slides in feedback and repeated practices and to D3DPM in adaptability to multiple learning environments.

CONCLUSION: A novel online interactive neurosurgical simulator was developed, and satisfactory validity was shown. Audiovisual capture successfully transmitted the tactile information.

Three-Dimensional Modeling and Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Simulation of Fiber Dissection of the Cerebellum and Brainstem

Surgeons must understand the complex anatomy of the cerebellum and brainstem and their 3-dimensional (3D) relationships with each other for surgery to be successful. To the best of our knowledge, there have been no fiber dissection studies combined with 3D models, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) of the structure of the cerebellum and brainstem. In this study, we created freely accessible AR and VR simulations and 3D models of the cerebellum and brainstem.

OBJECTIVE: To create 3D models and AR and VR simulations of cadaveric dissections of the human cerebellum and brainstem and to examine the 3D relationships of these structures.

METHODS: Ten cadaveric cerebellum and brainstem specimens were prepared in accordance with the Klingler’s method. The cerebellum and brainstem were dissected under the operating microscope, and 2-dimensional and 3D images were captured at every stage. With a photogrammetry tool (Qlone, EyeCue Vision Technologies, Ltd.), AR and VR simulations and 3D models were created by combining several 2-dimensional pictures.

RESULTS: For the first time reported in the literature, high-resolution, easily accessible, free 3D models and AR and VR simulations of cerebellum and brainstem dissections were created.

CONCLUSION: Fiber dissection of the cerebellum-brainstem complex and 3D models with AR and VR simulations are a useful addition to the goal of training neurosurgeons worldwide.

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.

Real‐time augmented reality application in presurgical planning and lesion scalp localization by a smartphone

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:1069–1078

Objective A smartphone augmented reality (AR) application (app) was explored for clinical use in presurgical planning and lesion scalp localization.

Methods We programmed an AR App on a smartphone. The accuracy of the AR app was tested on a 3D-printed head model, using the Euclidean distance of displacement of virtual objects. For clinical validation, 14 patients with brain tumors were included in the study. Preoperative MRI images were used to generate 3D models for AR contents. The 3D models were then transferred to the smartphone AR app. Tumor scalp localization was marked, and a surgical corridor was planned on the patient’s head by viewing AR images on the smartphone screen. Standard neuronavigation was applied to evaluate the accuracy of the smartphone. Max-margin distance (MMD) and area overlap ratio (AOR) were measured to quantitatively validate the clinical accuracy of the smartphone AR technique.

Results In model validation, the total mean Euclidean distance of virtual object displacement using the smartphone AR app was 4.7 ± 2.3 mm. In clinical validation, the mean duration of AR app usage was 168.5 ± 73.9 s. The total mean MMD was 6.7 ± 3.7 mm, and total mean AOR was 79%.

Conclusions The smartphone AR app provides a new way of experience to observe intracranial anatomy in situ, and it makes surgical planning more intuitive and efficient. Localization accuracy is satisfactory with lesions larger than 15 mm.

Clinical accuracy and initial experience with augmented reality–assisted pedicle screw placement

J Neurosurg Spine 36:351–357, 2022

Augmented reality (AR) is a novel technology which, when applied to spine surgery, offers the potential for efficient, safe, and accurate placement of spinal instrumentation. The authors report the accuracy of the first 205 pedicle screws consecutively placed at their institution by using AR assistance with a unique head-mounted display (HMD) navigation system.

METHODS A retrospective review was performed of the first 28 consecutive patients who underwent AR-assisted pedicle screw placement in the thoracic, lumbar, and/or sacral spine at the authors’ institution. Clinical accuracy for each pedicle screw was graded using the Gertzbein-Robbins scale by an independent neuroradiologist working in a blinded fashion.

RESULTS Twenty-eight consecutive patients underwent thoracic, lumbar, or sacral pedicle screw placement with AR assistance. The median age at the time of surgery was 62.5 (IQR 13.8) years and the median body mass index was 31 (IQR 8.6) kg/m2. Indications for surgery included degenerative disease (n = 12, 43%); deformity correction (n = 12, 43%); tumor (n = 3, 11%); and trauma (n = 1, 4%). The majority of patients (n = 26, 93%) presented with low-back pain, 19 (68%) patients presented with radicular leg pain, and 10 (36%) patients had documented lower extremity weakness. A total of 205 screws were consecutively placed, with 112 (55%) placed in the lumbar spine, 67 (33%) in the thoracic spine, and 26 (13%) at S1. Screw placement accuracy was 98.5% for thoracic screws, 97.8% for lumbar/S1 screws, and 98.0% overall.

CONCLUSIONS AR depicted through a unique HMD is a novel and clinically accurate technology for the navigated insertion of pedicle screws. The authors describe the first 205 AR-assisted thoracic, lumbar, and sacral pedicle screws consecutively placed at their institution with an accuracy of 98.0% as determined by a Gertzbein-Robbins grade of A or B.

Augmented reality visualization in brain lesions: a prospective randomized controlled evaluation of its potential and current limitations in navigated microneurosurgery

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 26:3–14

Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to support complex neurosurgical interventions by including visual information seamlessly. This study examines intraoperative visualization parameters and clinical impact of AR in brain tumor surgery.

Methods Fifty-five intracranial lesions, operated either with AR-navigated microscope (n = 39) or conventional neuronavigation (n = 16) after randomization, have been included prospectively. Surgical resection time, duration/type/mode of AR, displayed objects (n, type), pointer-based navigation checks (n), usability of control, quality indicators, and overall surgical usefulness of AR have been assessed.

Results AR display has been used in 44.4% of resection time. Predominant AR type was navigation view (75.7%), followed by target volumes (20.1%). Predominant AR mode was picture-in-picture (PiP) (72.5%), followed by 23.3% overlay display. In 43.6% of cases, vision of important anatomical structures has been partially or entirely blocked by AR information. A total of 7.7% of cases used MRI navigation only, 30.8% used one, 23.1% used two, and 38.5% used three or more object segmentations in AR navigation. A total of 66.7% of surgeons found AR visualization helpful in the individual surgical case. AR depth information and accuracy have been rated acceptable (median 3.0 vs. median 5.0 in conventional neuronavigation). The mean utilization of the navigation pointer was 2.6   /resection hour (AR) vs. 9.7   /resection hour (neuronavigation); navigation effort was significantly reduced in AR (P < 0.001).

Conclusions The main benefit of HUD-based AR visualization in brain tumor surgery is the integrated continuous display allowing for pointer-less navigation. Navigation view (PiP) provides the highest usability while blocking the operative field less frequently. Visualization quality will benefit from improvements in registration accuracy and depth impression.

German clinical trials registration number. DRKS00016955.

The effect of augmented reality on the accuracy and learning curve of external ventricular drain placement

Neurosurg Focus 51 (2):E8, 2021

The traditional freehand technique for external ventricular drain (EVD) placement is most frequently used, but remains the primary risk factor for inaccurate drain placement. As this procedure could benefit from image guidance, the authors set forth to demonstrate the impact of augmented-reality (AR) assistance on the accuracy and learning curve of EVD placement compared with the freehand technique.

METHODS Sixteen medical students performed a total of 128 EVD placements on a custom-made phantom head, both before and after receiving a standardized training session. They were guided by either the freehand technique or by AR, which provided an anatomical overlay and tailored guidance for EVD placement through inside-out infrared tracking. The outcome was quantified by the metric accuracy of EVD placement as well as by its clinical quality.

RESULTS The mean target error was significantly impacted by either AR (p = 0.003) or training (p = 0.02) in a direct comparison with the untrained freehand performance. Both untrained (11.9 ± 4.5 mm) and trained (12.2 ± 4.7 mm) AR performances were significantly better than the untrained freehand performance (19.9 ± 4.2 mm), which improved after training (13.5 ± 4.7 mm). The quality of EVD placement as assessed by the modified Kakarla scale (mKS) was significantly impacted by AR guidance (p = 0.005) but not by training (p = 0.07). Both untrained and trained AR performances (59.4% mKS grade 1 for both) were significantly better than the untrained freehand performance (25.0% mKS grade 1). Spatial aptitude testing revealed a correlation between perceptual ability and untrained AR-guided performance (r = 0.63).

CONCLUSIONS Compared with the freehand technique, AR guidance for EVD placement yielded a higher outcome accuracy and quality for procedure novices. With AR, untrained individuals performed as well as trained individuals, which indicates that AR guidance not only improved performance but also positively impacted the learning curve. Future efforts will focus on the translation and evaluation of AR for EVD placement in the clinical setting.

Microsurgical clipping of middle cerebral artery aneurysms: preoperative planning using virtual reality to reduce procedure time

Neurosurg Focus 51 (2):E12, 2021

The authors sought to evaluate the impact of virtual reality (VR) applications for preoperative planning and rehearsal on the total procedure time of microsurgical clipping of middle cerebral artery (MCA) ruptured and unruptured aneurysms compared with standard surgical planning.

METHODS A retrospective review of 21 patients from 2016 to 2019 was conducted to determine the impact on the procedure time of MCA aneurysm clipping after implementing VR for preoperative planning and rehearsal. The control group consisted of patients whose procedures were planned with standard CTA and DSA scans (n = 11). The VR group consisted of patients whose procedures were planned with a patient-specific 360° VR (360VR) model (n = 10). The 360VR model was rendered using CTA and DSA data when available. Each patient was analyzed and scored with a case complexity (CC) 5-point grading scale accounting for aneurysm size, incorporation of M2 branches, and aspect ratio, with 1 being the least complex and 5 being the most complex. The mean procedure times were compared between the VR group and the control group, as were the mean CC score between the groups. Comorbidities and aneurysm conduction (ruptured vs unruptured) were also taken into consideration for the comparison.

RESULTS The mean CC scores for the control group and VR group were 2.45 ± 1.13 and 2.30 ± 0.48, respectively. CC was not significantly different between the two groups (p = 0.69). The mean procedure time was significantly lower for the VR group compared with the control group (247.80 minutes vs 328.27 minutes; p = 0.0115), particularly for the patients with a CC score of 2 (95% CI, p = 0.0064). A Charlson Comorbidity Index score was also calculated for each group, but no statistical significance was found (VR group, 2.8 vs control group, 1.8, p = 0.14).

CONCLUSIONS In this study, usage of 360VR models for planning the craniotomy and rehearsing with various clip sizes and configurations resulted in an 80-minute decrease in procedure time. These findings have suggested the potential of VR technology in improving surgical efficiency for aneurysm clipping procedures regardless of complexity, while making the procedure faster and safer.

A cadaveric precision and accuracy analysis of augmented reality–mediated percutaneous pedicle implant insertion

J Neurosurg Spine 34:316–324, 2021

Augmented reality–mediated spine surgery (ARMSS) is a minimally invasive novel technology that has the potential to increase the efficiency, accuracy, and safety of conventional percutaneous pedicle screw insertion methods. Visual 3D spinal anatomical and 2D navigation images are directly projected onto the operator’s retina and superimposed over the surgical field, eliminating field of vision and attention shift to a remote display. The objective of this cadaveric study was to assess the accuracy and precision of percutaneous ARMSS pedicle implant insertion.

METHODS Instrumentation was placed in 5 cadaveric torsos via ARMSS with the xvision augmented reality headmounted display (AR-HMD) platform at levels ranging from T5 to S1 for a total of 113 total implants (93 pedicle screws and 20 Jamshidi needles). Postprocedural CT scans were graded by two independent neuroradiologists using the Gertzbein- Robbins scale (grades A–E) for clinical accuracy. Technical precision was calculated using superimposition analysis employing the Medical Image Interaction Toolkit to yield angular trajectory (°) and linear screw tip (mm) deviation from the virtual pedicle screw position compared with the actual pedicle screw position on postprocedural CT imaging.

RESULTS The overall implant insertion clinical accuracy achieved was 99.1%. Lumbosacral and thoracic clinical accuracies were 100% and 98.2%, respectively. Specifically, among all implants inserted, 112 were noted to be Gertzbein- Robbins grade A or B (99.12%), with only 1 medial Gertzbein-Robbins grade C breach (> 2-mm pedicle breach) in a thoracic pedicle at T9. Precision analysis of the inserted pedicle screws yielded a mean screw tip linear deviation of 1.98 mm (99% CI 1.74–2.22 mm) and a mean angular error of 1.29° (99% CI 1.11°–1.46°) from the projected trajectory. These data compare favorably with data from existing navigation platforms and regulatory precision requirements mandating that linear and angular deviation be less than 3 mm (p < 0.01) and 3° (p < 0.01), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS Percutaneous ARMSS pedicle implant insertion is a technically feasible, accurate, and highly precise method.


A wearable mixed-reality holographic computer for guiding external ventricular drain insertion at the bedside

J Neurosurg 131:1599–1606, 2019

The goal of this study was to explore the feasibility and accuracy of using a wearable mixed-reality holographic computer to guide external ventricular drain (EVD) insertion and thus improve on the accuracy of the classic freehand insertion method for EVD insertion. The authors also sought to provide a clinically applicable workflow demonstration.

METHODS Pre- and postoperative CT scanning were performed routinely by the authors for every patient who needed EVD insertion. Hologram-guided EVD placement was prospectively applied in 15 patients between August and November 2017. During surgical planning, model reconstruction and trajectory calculation for each patient were completed using preoperative CT. By wearing a Microsoft HoloLens, the neurosurgeon was able to visualize the preoperative CT-generated holograms of the surgical plan and perform EVD placement by keeping the catheter aligned with the holographic trajectory. Fifteen patients who had undergone classic freehand EVD insertion were retrospectively included as controls. The feasibility and accuracy of the hologram-guided technique were evaluated by comparing the time required, number of passes, and target deviation for hologram-guided EVD placement with those for classic freehand EVD insertion.

RESULTS Surgical planning and hologram visualization were performed in all 15 cases in which EVD insertion involved holographic guidance. No adverse events related to the hologram-guided procedures were observed. The mean ± SD additional time before the surgical part of the procedure began was 40.20 ± 10.74 minutes. The average number of passes was 1.07 ± 0.258 in the holographic guidance group, compared with 2.33 ± 0.98 in the control group (p < 0.01). The mean target deviation was 4.34 ± 1.63 mm in the holographic guidance group and 11.26 ± 4.83 mm in the control group (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS This study demonstrates the use of a head-mounted mixed-reality holographic computer to successfully perform hologram-assisted bedside EVD insertion. A full set of clinically applicable workflow images is presented to show how medical imaging data can be used by the neurosurgeon to visualize patient-specific holograms that can intuitively guide hands-on operation. The authors also provide preliminary confirmation of the feasibility and accuracy of this hologram-guided EVD insertion technique.

Augmented reality–assisted pedicle screw insertion

J Neurosurg Spine 31:139–146, 2019

Augmented reality (AR) is a novel technology that has the potential to increase the technical feasibility, accuracy, and safety of conventional manual and robotic computer-navigated pedicle insertion methods. Visual data are directly projected to the operator’s retina and overlaid onto the surgical field, thereby removing the requirement to shift attention to a remote display. The objective of this study was to assess the comparative accuracy of AR-assisted pedicle screw insertion in comparison to conventional pedicle screw insertion methods.

METHODS Five cadaveric male torsos were instrumented bilaterally from T6 to L5 for a total of 120 inserted pedicle screws. Postprocedural CT scans were obtained, and screw insertion accuracy was graded by 2 independent neuroradiologists using both the Gertzbein scale (GS) and a combination of that scale and the Heary classification, referred to in this paper as the Heary-Gertzbein scale (HGS). Non-inferiority analysis was performed, comparing the accuracy to freehand, manual computer-navigated, and robotics-assisted computer-navigated insertion accuracy rates reported in the literature. User experience analysis was conducted via a user experience questionnaire filled out by operators after the procedures.

RESULTS The overall screw placement accuracy achieved with the AR system was 96.7% based on the HGS and 94.6% based on the GS. Insertion accuracy was non-inferior to accuracy reported for manual computer-navigated pedicle insertion based on both the GS and the HGS scores. When compared to accuracy reported for robotics-assisted computer-navigated insertion, accuracy achieved with the AR system was found to be non-inferior when assessed with the GS, but superior when assessed with the HGS. Last, accuracy results achieved with the AR system were found to be superior to results obtained with freehand insertion based on both the HGS and the GS scores. Accuracy results were not found to be inferior in any comparison. User experience analysis yielded “excellent” usability classification.

CONCLUSIONS AR-assisted pedicle screw insertion is a technically feasible and accurate insertion method.


App-assisted external ventricular drain insertion


J Neurosurg 125:754–758, 2016

The freehand technique for insertion of an external ventricular drain (EVD) is based on fixed anatomical landmarks and does not take individual variations into consideration. A patient-tailored approach based on augmented-reality techniques using devices such as smartphones can address this shortcoming. The Sina neurosurgical assist (Sina) is an Android mobile device application (app) that was designed and developed to be used as a simple intraoperative neurosurgical planning aid. It overlaps the patient’s images from previously performed CT or MRI studies on the image seen through the device camera.

The device is held by an assistant who aligns the images and provides information about the relative position of the target and EVD to the surgeon who is performing EVD insertion. This app can be used to provide guidance and continuous monitoring during EVD placement.

The author describes the technique of Sina-assisted EVD insertion into the frontal horn of the lateral ventricle and reports on its clinical application in 5 cases as well as the results of ex vivo studies of ease of use and precision. The technique has potential for further development and use with other augmented-reality devices.

Augmented reality–guided neurosurgery: accuracy and intraoperative application of an image projection technique

Augmented reality–guided neurosurgery- accuracy and intraoperative application of an image projection technique

J Neurosurg 123:206–211, 2015

An augmented reality system has been developed for image-guided neurosurgery to project images with regions of interest onto the patient’s head, skull, or brain surface in real time. The aim of this study was to evaluate system accuracy and to perform the first intraoperative application.

Methods Images of segmented brain tumors in different localizations and sizes were created in 10 cases and were projected to a head phantom using a video projector. Registration was performed using 5 fiducial markers. After each registration, the distance of the 5 fiducial markers from the visualized tumor borders was measured on the virtual image and on the phantom. The difference was considered a projection error. Moreover, the image projection technique was intraoperatively applied in 5 patients and was compared with a standard navigation system.

Results Augmented reality visualization of the tumors succeeded in all cases. The mean time for registration was 3.8 minutes (range 2–7 minutes). The mean projection error was 0.8 ± 0.25 mm. There were no significant differences in accuracy according to the localization and size of the tumor. Clinical feasibility and reliability of the augmented reality system could be proved intraoperatively in 5 patients (projection error 1.2 ± 0.54 mm).

Conclusions The augmented reality system is accurate and reliable for the intraoperative projection of images to the head, skull, and brain surface. The ergonomic advantage of this technique improves the planning of neurosurgical procedures and enables the surgeon to use direct visualization for image-guided neurosurgery.

The use of simulation in neurosurgical education and training

Simulation in neurosurgical training

J Neurosurg 121:228–246, 2014

There is increasing evidence that simulation provides high-quality, time-effective training in an era of resident duty-hour restrictions. Simulation may also permit trainees to acquire key skills in a safe environment, important in a specialty such as neurosurgery, where technical error can result in devastating consequences. The authors systematically reviewed the application of simulation within neurosurgical training and explored the state of the art in simulation within this specialty. To their knowledge this is the first systematic review published on this topic to date.

Methods. The authors searched the Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, and PsycINFO databases and identified 4101 articles; 195 abstracts were screened by 2 authors for inclusion. The authors reviewed data on study population, study design and setting, outcome measures, key findings, and limitations.

Results. Twenty-eight articles formed the basis of this systematic review. Several different simulators are at the neurosurgeon’s disposal, including those for ventriculostomy, neuroendoscopic procedures, and spinal surgery, with evidence for improved performance in a range of procedures. Feedback from participants has generally been favorable. However, study quality was found to be poor overall, with many studies hampered by nonrandomized design, presenting normal rather than abnormal anatomy, lack of control groups and long-term follow-up, poor study reporting, lack of evidence of improved simulator performance translating into clinical benefit, and poor reliability and validity evidence. The mean Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument score of included studies was 9.21 ± 1.95 (± SD) out of a possible score of 18.

Conclusions. The authors demonstrate qualitative and quantitative benefits of a range of neurosurgical simulators but find significant shortfalls in methodology and design. Future studies should seek to improve study design and reporting, and provide long-term follow-up data on simulated and ideally patient outcomes.

Novel augmented reality–assisted percutaneous vertebroplasty

A novel 3D guidance system using augmented reality for percutaneous vertebroplasty

J Neurosurg Spine 19:492–501, 2013

Augmented reality (AR) is an imaging technology by which virtual objects are overlaid onto images of real objects captured in real time by a tracking camera. This study aimed to introduce a novel AR guidance system called virtual protractor with augmented reality (VIPAR) to visualize a needle trajectory in 3D space during percutaneous vertebroplasty (PVP). The AR system used for this study comprised a head-mount display (HMD) with a tracking camera and a marker sheet. An augmented scene was created by overlaying the preoperatively generated needle trajectory path onto a marker detected on the patient using AR software, thereby providing the surgeon with augmented views in real time through the HMD. The accuracy of the system was evaluated by using a computer-generated simulation model in a spine phantom and also evaluated clinically in 5 patients.

In the 40 spine phantom trials, the error of the insertion angle (EIA), defined as the difference between the attempted angle and the insertion angle, was evaluated using 3D CT scanning. Computed tomography analysis of the 40 spine phantom trials showed that the EIA in the axial plane significantly improved when VIPAR was used compared with when it was not used (0.96° ± 0.61° vs 4.34° ± 2.36°, respectively). The same held true for EIA in the sagittal plane (0.61° ± 0.70° vs 2.55° ± 1.93°, respectively). In the clinical evaluation of the AR system, 5 patients with osteoporotic vertebral fractures underwent VIPARguided PVP from October 2011 to May 2012. The postoperative EIA was evaluated using CT.

The clinical results of the 5 patients showed that the EIA in all 10 needle insertions was 2.09° ± 1.3° in the axial plane and 1.98° ± 1.8° in the sagittal plane. There was no pedicle breach or leakage of polymethylmethacrylate.

VIPAR was successfully used to assist in needle insertion during PVP by providing the surgeon with an ideal insertion point and needle trajectory through the HMD. The findings indicate that AR guidance technology can become a useful assistive device during spine surgeries requiring percutaneous procedures.