Surgical Navigation

What is Surgical Navigation?

Surgical Navigation is an exciting new technology that is revolutionizing spine surgery. Imagine being able to "see" the spine without having to expose any of the delicate tissue surrounding it. It has many of the elements of computerized or "virtual" surgery except it is not virtual, it is real.

Dr. Kleeman has been involved in pioneering research with this new technology for over 10 years. He describes it as flying an airplane on instruments alone. As an instrument rated pilot, Dr. Kleeman is familiar with this technology. It requires looking at multiple instruments or screens simultaneously and using the combined information to navigate through unseen territory.

Here is how it works:

In order for the surgeon to "see" the spine, some standard imaging is first taken. This can be standard x-ray images or more sophisticated imaging such as CAT scan. Regular images allow for navigation in two planes only, while CT allows for 3-D imaging. This is done in the operating room with the patient in the position that will be used for the surgery. A special computer with an attached camera is used to store the images that will later be synced with the surgical instruments.

The accuracy is remarkable, usually within a couple of millimeters. The computer has images of the instruments already stored in its database allowing the ability to move from one instrument to another.

Even the bone screws have the ability to be visualized on the screen. This allows the surgeon to know the length and diameter of the selected screw will fit perfectly with the patient's spine.