Tracked ultrasound snapshots in percutaneous pedicle screw placement navigation: A feasibility study basic research

Tamas Ungi, Eric Moult, Joseph H. Schwab, Gabor Fichtinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Computerized navigation improves the accuracy of minimally invasive pedicle screw placement during spine surgery. Such navigation, however, exposes both the patient and the staff to radiation during surgery. To avoid intraoperative exposure to radiation, tracked ultrasound snapshots - ultrasound image frames coupled with corresponding spatial positions - could be used to map preoperatively defined screw plans into the intraoperative coordinate frame. The feasibility of such an approach, however, has not yet been investigated. Questions/purposes: Are there vertebral landmarks that can be identified using tracked ultrasound snapshots? Can tracked ultrasound snapshots allow preoperative pedicle screw plans to be accurately mapped - compared with CT-derived pedicle screw plans - into the intraoperative coordinate frame in a simulated setting? Methods: Ultrasound visibility of registration landmarks was checked on volunteers and phantoms. An ultrasound machine with integrated electromagnetic tracking was used for tracked ultrasound acquisition. Registration was performed using 3D Slicer open-source software ( Two artificial lumbar spine phantoms were used to evaluate registration accuracy of pedicle screw plans using tracked ultrasound snapshots. Registration accuracy was determined by comparing the ultrasound-derived plans with the CT-derived plans. Results: The four articular processes proved to be identifiable using tracked ultrasound snapshots. Pedicle screw plans were registered to the intraoperative coordinate system using landmarks. The registrations were sufficiently accurate in that none of the registered screw plans intersected the pedicle walls. Registered screw plan positions had an error less than 1.28 ± 1.37 mm (average ± SD) in each direction and an angle difference less than 1.92 ± 1.95 around each axis relative to the CT-derived positions. Conclusions: Registration landmarks could be located using tracked ultrasound snapshots and permitted accurate mapping of pedicle screw plans to the intraoperative coordinate frame in a simulated setting. Clinical Relevance: Tracked ultrasound may allow accurate computer-navigated pedicle screw placement while avoiding ionizing radiation in the operating room; however, further studies that compare this approach with other navigation techniques are needed to confirm the practical use of this new approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4047-4055
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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