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.

The impact of needle location on clinical outcome of radiofrequency rhizotomy for trigeminal neuralgia

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:1575–1585

Radiofrequency thermocoagulation trigeminal rhizotomy (RT-TR) through the foramen ovale is a minimally invasive treatment for trigeminal neuralgia. Navigation of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT fusion imaging is a well-established method for cannulation of the Gasserian ganglion. In this study, we use the inline measurements from fusion image to analyze the anatomical parameters between the actual and simulation trajectories and compare the short- and intermediate-term outcomes according to determinable factors.

Methods The study included thirty-six idiopathic neuralgia patients who had undergone RT-TR with MRI and CT fusion image as a primary modality or repeated procedures.

Results Among thirty-six treated patients, the inline length of the trigeminal cistern was longer for the simulated trajectory (8.4 ± 2.4 versus 6.5 ± 2.8 mm; p < 0.05), and the predominant structure at risk extrapolated from the inline trajectory was the brainstem, which signified a more medially directed route, in contrast with the equal weighting of temporal lobe and brainstem for the actual trajectory. The preoperative visual analogue scale (VAS) was 9.3 ± 1.0, which decreased to 2.5 ± 2.6 and 2.9 ± 3.1 at first (mean, 3 months) and second (mean, 14 months) postoperative follow-up, respectively. The postoperative VAS scores at the two follow-ups were not statistically significant without a covariate analysis. After adjustment for covariate risk factors, the second follow-up sustained therapeutic benefit was evident in patients with no prior history of related treatment, an ablation temperature greater than 70 °C, and needle location within or adjacent to the trigeminal cistern.

Conclusions This preliminary study demonstrated that the needle location between cistern and ganglion also plays a significant role in better intermediate-term results.

The comparative accuracy and safety of fluoroscopic and navigation-based techniques in cervical pedicle screw fixation: systematic review and meta-analysis

J Neurosurg Spine 35:194–201, 2021

The goal of this study was to evaluate the comparative accuracy and safety of navigation-based approaches for cervical pedicle screw (CPS) placement over fluoroscopic techniques.

METHODS A systematic search of the literature published between January 2006 and December 2019 relating to CPS instrumentation and the comparative accuracy and safety of fluoroscopic and intraoperative computer-based navigation techniques was conducted. Several databases, including the Cochrane Library, PubMed, and EMBASE, were systematically searched to identify potentially eligible studies. Data relating to CPS insertion accuracy and associated complications, in particular neurovascular complications, were extrapolated from the included studies and summarized for analysis.

RESULTS A total of 17 studies were identified from the search methodology. Eleven studies evaluated CPS placement under traditional fluoroscopic guidance and 6 studies addressed outcomes following navigation-assisted placement (3D C-arm or CT-guided placement). Overall, a total of 4278 screws were placed in 1065 patients. Misplacement rates of CPS were significantly lower (p < 0.0001) in navigation-assisted techniques (12.51% [range 2.5%–20.5%]) compared to fluoroscopy-guided techniques (18.8% [range 0%–43.5%]). Fluoroscopy-guided CPS insertion was associated with a significantly higher incidence of postoperative complications relating to neurovascular injuries (p < 0.038), with a mean incidence of 1.9% compared with 0.3% in navigation-assisted techniques.

CONCLUSIONS This systematic review supports a logical conclusion that navigation-based techniques confer a statistically significantly more accurate screw placement and resultant lower complication rates.


Use of the Airo mobile intraoperative CT system versus the O-arm for transpedicular screw fixation in the thoracic and lumbar spine

J Neurosurg Spine 29:397–406, 2018

Navigation-enabling technology such as 3D-platform (O-arm) or intraoperative mobile CT (iCT-Airo) systems for use in spinal surgery has considerably improved accuracy over that of traditional fluoroscopy-guided techniques during pedicular screw positioning. In this study, the authors compared 2 intraoperative imaging systems with navigation, available in their neurosurgical unit, in terms of the accuracy they provided for transpedicular screw fixation in the thoracic and lumbar spine.

METHODS The authors performed a retrospective analysis of clinical and surgical data of 263 consecutive patients who underwent thoracic and lumbar spine screw placement in the same center. Data on 97 patients who underwent surgery with iCT-Airo navigation (iCT-Airo group) and 166 with O-arm navigation (O-arm group) were analyzed. Most patients underwent surgery for a degenerative or traumatic condition that involved thoracic and lumbar pedicle screw fixation using an open or percutaneous technique. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients with at least 1 screw not correctly positioned according to the last intraoperative image. Secondary endpoints were the proportion of screws that were repositioned during surgery, the proportion of patients with a postoperative complication related to screw malposition, surgical time, and radiation exposure. A blinded radiologist graded screw positions in the last intraoperative image according to the Heary classification (grade 1–3 screws were considered correctly placed).

RESULTS A total of 1361 screws placed in 97 patients in the iCT-Airo group (503 screws) and in 166 in the O-arm group (858 screws) were graded. Of those screws, 3 (0.6%) in the iCT-Airo group and 4 (0.5%) in the O-arm group were misplaced. No statistically significant difference in final accuracy between these 2 groups or in the subpopulation of patients who underwent percutaneous surgery was found. Three patients in the iCT-Airo group (3.1%, 95% CI 0%–6.9%) and 3 in the O-arm group (1.8%, 95% CI 0%–4.0%) had a misplaced screw (Heary grade 4 or 5). Seven (1.4%) screws in the iCT-Airo group and 37 (4.3%) in the O-arm group were repositioned intraoperatively (p = 0.003). One patient in the iCT-Airo group and 2 in the O-arm group experienced postoperative neurological deficits related to hardware malposition. The mean surgical times in both groups were similar (276 [iCT-Airo] and 279 [O-arm] minutes). The mean exposure to radiation in the iCT-Airo group was significantly lower than that in the O-arm group (15.82 vs 19.12 mSv, respectively; p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS Introduction of a mobile CT scanner reduced the rate of screw repositioning, which enhanced patient safety and diminished radiation exposure for patients, but it did not improve overall accuracy compared to that of a mobile 3D platform.


Endoscopic endonasal odontoid resection with real-time intraoperative image-guided computed tomography

J Neurosurg 128:1486–1491, 2018

The authors present 4 cases in which they used intraoperative CT (iCT) scanning to provide real-time image guidance during endonasal odontoid resection. While intraoperative CT has previously been used as a confirmatory test after resection, to the authors’ knowledge this is the first time it has been used to provide real-time image guidance during endonasal odontoid resection. The operating room setup, as well as the advantages and pitfalls of this approach, are discussed.

A mobile intraoperative CT scanner was used in conjunction with real-time craniospinal neuronavigation in 4 patients who underwent endoscopic endonasal odontoidectomy for basilar invagination. All patients underwent a successful decompression.

In 3 of the 4 patients, real-time intraoperative CT image guidance was instrumental in achieving a comprehensive decompression. In 3 (75%) cases in which the right nostril was the predominant working channel, there was a tendency for asymmetrical decompression toward the right side, meaning that residual bone was seen on the left, which was subsequently removed prior to completion of the surgery.

Endoscopic endonasal odontoid resection with real-time intraoperative image-guided CT scanning is feasible and provides accurate intraoperative localization of pathology, thereby increasing the chance of a complete odontoidectomy. For right-handed surgeons operating predominantly through the right nostril, special attention should be paid to the contralateral side of the resection, where there is often a tendency for residual pathology.

Navigation and Robotics in Spinal Surgery: Where Are We Now?

Neurosurgery 80:S86–S99, 2017

Spine surgery has experienced much technological innovation over the past several decades. The field has seen advancements in operative techniques, implants and biologics, and equipment such as computer-assisted navigation and surgical robotics.

With the arrival of real-time image guidance and navigation capabilities along with the computing ability to process and reconstruct these data into an interactive three-dimensional spinal “map”, so too have the applications of surgical robotic technology.

While spinal robotics and navigation represent promising potential for improving modern spinal surgery, it remains paramount to demonstrate its superiority as compared to traditional techniques prior to assimilation of its use amongst surgeons.

The applications for intraoperative navigation and image-guided robotics have expanded to surgical resection of spinal column and intradural tumors, revision procedures on arthrodesed spines, and deformity cases with distorted anatomy.

Additionally, these platforms may mitigate much of the harmful radiation exposure in minimally invasive surgery to which the patient, surgeon, and ancillary operating room staff are subjected. Spine surgery relies upon meticulous fine motor skills to manipulate neural elements and a steady hand while doing so, often exploiting small working corridors utilizing exposures that minimize collateral damage.

Additionally, the procedures may be long and arduous, predisposing the surgeon to both mental and physical fatigue. In light of these characteristics, spine surgery may actually be an ideal candidate for the integration of navigation and robotic-assisted procedures.

With this paper, we aim to critically evaluate the current literature and explore the options available for intraoperative navigation and robotic-assisted spine surgery.

Three-Dimensional Computed Tomography-Based Spinal Navigation in Minimally Invasive Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Three-Dimensional Computed Tomography-Based Spinal Navigation in Minimally Invasive Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion4

Operative Neurosurgery 11:259–267, 2015

As with most minimally invasive spine procedures, lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) requires the use of biplanar fluoroscopy for localization and safe interbody cage placement. Computed tomography (CT)-based intraoperative spinal navigation has been shown to be more effective than fluoroscopic guidance for posterior-based approaches such as pedicle screw instrumentation. However, the use of spinal navigation in LLIF has not been well studied.

OBJECTIVE: To present the technique for using an intraoperative cone-beam CT and image-guided navigation system in LLIF and to provide a preliminary analysis of outcomes.

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed a prospectively acquired database and the electronic records of patients undergoing LLIF with spinal navigation. Eight patients were identified. Postoperative neurological deficits were recorded. All patients underwent postprocedural CT and x-ray imaging for analysis of accuracy of cage placement. Accuracy of cage placement was determined by location within the disk space.

RESULTS: The mean age was 66 years, and 6 patients were women. A mean 2.8 levels were treated with a total of 22 lateral cages implanted via navigation. All cages were placed within quarters 1 to 2 or 2 to 3, signifying the anterior half or middle portions of the disk space. There were no sensory or motor deficits postoperatively.

CONCLUSION: Use of an intraoperative cone-beam CT with an image-guided navigation system is feasible and safe and appears to be accurate, although a larger study is required to confirm these results.

Surgical results of tumor resection using tractography-integrated navigation-guided fence-post catheter techniques and motor-evoked potentials for preservation of motor function in patients with glioblastomas near the pyramidal tracts

Surgical results of tumor resection using tractography-integrated

Neurosurg Rev (2015) 38:293–307

The current optimal surgery for glioblastomas (GBMs) near the pyramidal tract (PT) is to remove as much tumor as possible and to preserve motor function. The purpose of this study is to investigate the usefulness of tractography integrated navigation-guided fence-post catheter techniques and motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) for preserving postoperative motor function after GBM surgery.

We retrospectively examined 49 patients who underwent resection for GBM near the PT. Diffusion tensor (DT) imaging-based tractography of the PT was performed preoperatively and integrated into the navigation system. When possible, silicon catheters were used as “fence-posts” and were inserted along the tumor boundaries, avoiding the PT, before tumor removal using the navigation system (fence-post catheter techniques). Cortical and subcortical MEPs were also monitored during resection of the tumor. Fence-post catheter techniques using a tractography integrated navigation system were used in 45 of 49 patients.

This technique enabled placement of the catheters, avoided the motor pathways, and allowed easier resection of the tumors. Tumors near the PT were resected using subcortical and cortical MEPs. The amplitudes of cortical MEPs after tumor removal were maintained at over 33 % of those obtained before resection.

Thirty-six patients showed obvious responses of subcortical MEPs at ≤20 mA. The degree of resection was gross total in 21 patients, subtotal in 21, and partial in seven. One month after surgery, only one patient showed worsened motor function.

Therefore, fence-post catheter techniques using a tractography-integrated navigation system and MEPs may contribute to preserving motor function after surgery for GBMs that are near the PT.

The Mirroring Technique: A Navigation-Based Method for Reconstructing a Symmetrical Orbit and Cranial Vault

Mirroring technique

Neurosurgery 73[ONS Suppl 1]:ons24–ons29, 2013

The reconstruction of orbital structures and the cranial vault curvature can be challenging after trauma or wide resections for tumors. Sophisticated methods have been developed recently, but these are resource- and time-consuming.

OBJECTIVE: We report the mirroring technique, which is an effective and costless application for navigation-guided reconstruction procedures.

METHODS: At the time of the reconstruction, high-resolution images are reloaded while forcing a left-right axial flip. The pointer subsequently enables a virtual 3- dimensional projection of the position of the contralateral normal anatomy.

RESULTS: This method was applied successfully in 2 cases of en plaque sphenoid wing meningiomas with secondary exophthalmia.

CONCLUSION: The mirroring technique represents an accurate method of outlining the contralateral normal anatomy onto the pathological side based on navigation guidance.


Surgical Management of Symptomatic Os Odontoideum With Posterior Screw Fixation Performed Using the Magerl and Harms Techniques With Intraoperative 3-Dimensional Fluoroscopy-Based Navigation

Spine 2012 ; 37 : 1839 – 1846

To evaluate the accuracy of screw fixation using intraoperative three-dimensional fluoroscopy-based navigation (ITFN) and to assess the clinical outcomes of this treatment regimen.

Summary of Background Data. The surgical management of symptomatic os odontoideum poses considerable difficulties due to the highly variable anatomy of the upper cervical spine and surrounding neurovascular structures. Various methods have been described for the treatment of symptomatic os odontoideum, all of which have limitations.

Methods. Nineteen patients with symptomatic os odontoideum were investigated. Pain scores were assessed using the visual analogue scale. Myelopathy was assessed using the Nurick scale and Odom’s criteria. Radiological imaging was carried out in all patients for diagnosis and to assess the atlantodens interval, space available for cord, and presence of intramedullary hyperintensity signals on T2-weighted images at the C1–C2 level. Posterior stabilization was performed for all patients by using ITFN.

Results. The mean Nurick score improved from 2.3 before surgery to 0.7 at the time of follow-up. The mean follow-up period was 34.7 months (range, 12–65 mo). According to Odom’s criteria, outcomes were as follows: excellent, 47%; good, 37%; fair, 11%; and poor, 5%. All patients with preoperative neck pain had symptom relief or improvement, with all of these patients having more than 83.7% improvement in visual analogue scale scores. The mean preoperative space available for cord value of 9.3 mm improved to 17.7 mm. Solid fusion and reduction of atlantoaxial dislocation were achieved in every patient without screw failure. Sixty screws were placed in 19 patients. Two C2 polyaxial screws in 2 patients and 1 transarticular screw in 1 patient slightly penetrated the transverse foramen with no vascular injury and clinical sequelae.

Conclusion. ITFN is a safe, accurate, and effective tool for screw placement in patients with symptomatic os odontoideum.

Intraoperative, full-rotation, three-dimensional image (O-arm)–based navigation system for cervical pedicle screw insertion

J Neurosurg Spine 15:472–478, 2011. DOI: 10.3171/2011.6.SPINE10809

The aim of this study was to retrospectively evaluate the reliability and accuracy of cervical pedicle screw (CPS) placement using an intraoperative, full-rotation, 3D image (O-arm)–based navigation system and to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the system.

Methods. The study involved 21 consecutive patients undergoing posterior stabilization surgery of the cervical spine between April and December 2009. The patients, in whom 108 CPSs had been inserted, underwent screw placement based on intraoperative 3D imaging and navigation using the O-arm system. Cervical pedicle screw positions were classified into 4 grades, according to pedicle-wall perforations, by using postoperative CT.

Results. Of the 108 CPSs, 96 (88.9%) were classified as Grade 0 (no perforation), 9 (8.3%) as Grade 1 (perforations < 2 mm, CPS exposed, and < 50% of screw diameter outside the pedicle), and 3 (2.8%) as Grade 2 (perforations between ≥ 2 and < 4 mm, CPS breached the pedicle wall, and > 50% of screw diameter outside the pedicle). No screw was classified as Grade 3 (perforation > 4 mm, complete perforation). No neurovascular complications occurred because of CPS placement.

Conclusions. The O-arm offers high-resolution 2D or 3D images, facilitates accurate and safe CPS insertion with high-quality navigation, and provides other substantial benefits for cervical spinal instrumentation. Even with current optimized technology, however, CPS perforation cannot be completely prevented, with 8.3% instances of minor violations, which do not cause significant complications, and 2.8% instances of major pedicle violations, which may cause catastrophic complications. Therefore, a combination of intraoperative 3D image–based navigation with other techniques may result in more accurate CPS placement.