Posterior spinal fusion surgery is required to correct severe idiopathic scoliosis. The surgery involves insertion of screws which requires high accuracy to prevent neurologic damage to the spinal cord. Although conventional CT navigation can reduce this risk, 3D-ultrasound-based navigation could achieve this without added ionizing radiation and usage of expensive and bulky equipment. This study aimed to evaluate the accuracy of a 3D ultrasound navigation system for posterior spine surgery.

A custom 3D ultrasound (3DUS) with model-to-surface registration algorithm was developed and integrated into a 3D navigation environment. A CT scan of an adolescent spine (T3-T11) was segmented and 3D printed for experiments. A probe with reflective markers was placed in vertebral pedicles 684 times in varying levels, positions in the capture space and orientation of vertebra, and the entrypoint and trajectory accuracies were measured.

Among 684 probe placements in vertebral levels T3 to T11 in the phantom spine, 95.5% were within 1 mm and 5° of accuracy, with an average accuracy of 0.4 ± 0.4 mm and 2.1 ± 0.9°, requiring 8.8 s to process. Accuracies were statistically significantly affected by vertebral orientation and position in the capture volume, though this was still within the targeted accuracies of 1 mm and 5°.

This preliminary ultrasound-based navigation system is accurate and fast enough for guiding placement of pedicle screws into the spine in posterior fusion surgery. The current results are limited to phantom spines, and future study in animal or human cadavers is needed to investigate soft tissue effects on registration accuracy.

Polls results

On a scale of 1 to 10, rate how much this article will change your clinical practice?

NO change
BIG change
61% Article relates to my practice (13/21)
14% Article does not relate to my practice (3/21)
23% Undecided (5/21)

Will this article lead to more cost-effective healthcare?

47% Yes (10/21)
19% No (4/21)
33% Undecided (7/21)

Was this article biased? (commercial or personal)

14% Yes (3/21)
80% No (17/21)
4% Undecided (1/21)

What level of evidence do you think this article is?

0% Level 1 (0/21)
9% Level 2 (2/21)
57% Level 3 (12/21)
14% Level 4 (3/21)
19% Level 5 (4/21)