One PhD position in the department of Biological and Biomedical Engineering or in Integrated Program in Neuroscience is open in the lab of Professor Louis Collins at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University to develop software tools for image guided neurosurgery of spine

Start date: Fall 2019/rolling

Stipend: $25k/y

Graduate programsBiological and Biomedical Engineering or Integrated Program in Neuroscience

DescriptionEach year more than 28,000 Canadians are treated surgically for lower back pain. Many of these cases require instrumentation with pedicle screws, which requires some form of X-ray imaging like fluoroscopy or intra-operative CT thus exposing patients and operating room personnel to significant amounts of harmful radiation. The candidate will develop, adapt and clinically test a new intra-operative ultrasound-based navigation system for spine surgery that is an inexpensive, radiation-free alternative to intra-operative X-ray imaging for instrumented lumbar spinal fusion and decompressions. Projects include structure segmentation, registration, augmented reality visualization and clinical evaluation.

Requirements: The successful candidates will work with a team of engineers, computer scientists and clinicians in an open-software environment, integrating new tools into our publicly available IBIS neuronavigation software platform ( should have a masters degree in computer science, math, physics, engineering or neuroscience and should have strong analytical and programming skills (C, C++, Python), ability to work independently, good communication skills. Experience with ITK and/or 3DSlicer is a plus.

Context: This project fits within a CIHR-funded research project entitled Ultrasound based pedicle screw navigation: an intraoperative image guidance system without radiation exposure.

We have built a prototype image-guided surgery (IGS) platform known as IBIS that uses intra-operative tracked freehand ultrasound. In this grant, we will adapt IBIS to traditional and minimally invasive spine surgery and test the hypothesis: If intraoperative ultrasound (iUS) is used to achieve patient-to-image registration then (i) use of radiographic imaging will be eliminated, (ii) overall operating time can be reduced, and (iii) accuracy of pedicle screw instrumentation will be better than procedures guided with fluoroscopy or iCT. The developed technologies will result in a more cost-effective, safe and accessible solution for both traditional and minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS).  iUS-IGS guidance will result in the following clinical benefits: intra-operative radiation exposure to patient and OR personnel is eliminated, thus allowing all vertebral levels to be registered and navigated when needed (e.g., scoliosis); provides near real-time navigation; can be repeated to validate and maintain accuracy throughout the procedure; this will decrease mal-position rate, decrease operating times and patient morbidity, and may reduce need for revision surgery facilities MISS techniques.

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