An on-board surgical tracking and video augmentation system for C-arm image guidance

S. Reaungamornrat, Y. Otake, A. Uneri, S. Schafer, D. J. Mirota, S. Nithiananthan, J. W. Stayman, G. Kleinszig, A. J. Khanna, R. H. Taylor, J. H. Siewerdsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: Conventional tracker configurations for surgical navigation carry a variety of limitations, including limited geometric accuracy, line-of-sight obstruction, and mismatch of the view angle with the surgeon's-eye view. This paper presents the development and characterization of a novel tracker configuration (referred to as "Tracker-on-C") intended to address such limitations by incorporating the tracker directly on the gantry of a mobile C-arm for fluoroscopy and cone-beam CT (CBCT). Methods: A video-based tracker (MicronTracker, Claron Technology Inc., Toronto, ON, Canada) was mounted on the gantry of a prototype mobile isocentric C-arm next to the flat-panel detector. To maintain registration within a dynamically moving reference frame (due to rotation of the C-arm), a reference marker consisting of 6 faces (referred to as a "hex-face marker") was developed to give visibility across the full range of C-arm rotation. Three primary functionalities were investigated: surgical tracking, generation of digitally reconstructed radiographs (DRRs) from the perspective of a tracked tool or the current C-arm angle, and augmentation of the tracker video scene with image, DRR, and planning data. Target registration error (TRE) was measured in comparison with the same tracker implemented in a conventional in-room configuration. Graphics processing unit (GPU)-accelerated DRRs were generated in real time as an assistant to C-arm positioning (i.e., positioning the C-arm such that target anatomy is in the field-of-view (FOV)), radiographic search (i.e., a virtual X-ray projection preview of target anatomy without X-ray exposure), and localization (i.e., visualizing the location of the surgical target or planning data). Video augmentation included superimposing tracker data, the X-ray FOV, DRRs, planning data, preoperative images, and/or intraoperative CBCT onto the video scene. Geometric accuracy was quantitatively evaluated in each case, and qualitative assessment of clinical feasibility was analyzed by an experienced and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon within a clinically realistic surgical setup of the Tracker-on-C. Results: The Tracker-on-C configuration demonstrated improved TRE (0.87 ± 0.25) mm in comparison with a conventional in-room tracker setup (1.92 ± 0.71) mm (p < 0.0001) attributed primarily to improved depth resolution of the stereoscopic camera placed closer to the surgical field. The hex-face reference marker maintained registration across the 180° C-arm orbit (TRE = 0.70 ± 0.32 mm). DRRs generated from the perspective of the C-arm X-ray detector demonstrated sub-mm accuracy (0.37 ± 0.20 mm) in correspondence with the real X-ray image. Planning data and DRRs overlaid on the video scene exhibited accuracy of (0.59 ± 0.38) pixels and (0.66 ± 0.36) pixels, respectively. Preclinical assessment suggested potential utility of the Tracker-on-C in a spectrum of interventions, including improved line of sight, an assistant to C-arm positioning, and faster target localization, while reducing X-ray exposure time. Conclusions: The proposed tracker configuration demonstrated sub-mm TRE from the dynamic reference frame of a rotational C-arm through the use of the multi-face reference marker. Real-time DRRs and video augmentation from a natural perspective over the operating table assisted C-arm setup, simplified radiographic search and localization, and reduced fluoroscopy time. Incorporation of the proposed tracker configuration with C-arm CBCT guidance has the potential to simplify intraoperative registration, improve geometric accuracy, enhance visualization, and reduce radiation exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-665
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Cone-beam CT
  • Image-guided interventions
  • Mobile C-arm
  • Surgical navigation
  • Surgical tracking
  • Target registration error
  • Video augmentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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