Ultrasound-guided spinal navigation

Spinal fusion surgery is a common procedure to treat spinal instability when medication and physical therapy fail. During the last two decades, the number of annual spinal fusion procedures has known a significant increase, with over 413,000 interventions reported in the United States. The surgery consists in rigidly fusing multiple vertebrae using rods and bone grafts to help stabilize the spinal column. The rods are fixed to each vertebra using screws implanted within the vertebral pedicles. In open surgery, the posterior part of the vertebra is exposed and the surgeon uses image-guided surgery (IGS) to align the screw trajectory through unexposed anatomy. The current IGS procedure is based on intra-operative 2D fluoroscopy or 3D computed tomography (CT) imaging, which increases operating time, interrupts the surgical workflow and exposes the patient and the operating room personnel to harmful radiations. In this research, we investigate a radiation-free alternative using intra-operative ultrasound (iUS) imaging for spinal navigation. The objectives are:
  • to address the problem of patient-to-preoperative image alignment during spine surgery;
  • to build an open-source software that provides basic functionality features for pedicle screw navigation;
  • to evaluate the solution in a clinical environment.