Computer-assisted navigation in complex cervical spine surgery: tips and tricks

Nicholas Wallace, Nathaniel E. Schaffer, Brett A. Freedman, Ahmad Nassr, Bradford L. Currier, Rakesh Patel, Ilyas S. Aleem


Stereotactic navigation is quickly establishing itself as the gold standard for accurate placement of spinal instrumentation and providing real-time anatomic referencing. There have been substantial improvements in computer-aided navigation over the last decade producing improved accuracy with intraoperative scanning while shortening registration time. The newest iterations of modeling software create robust maps of the anatomy while tracking software localizes instruments in multiple display modes. As a result, stereotactic navigation has become an effective adjunct to spine surgery, particularly improving instrumentation accuracy in the setting of atypical anatomy. This article provides an overview of stereotactic navigation applied to complex cervical spine surgery, details the means for registration and direct referencing, and shares our preferred methods to implement this promising technology.

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