Ultrasound-guided facet joint injection training using Perk Tutor

E. Moult, T. Ungi, M. Welch, J. Lu, R. C. McGraw, G. Fichtinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Facet syndrome is a condition that may cause 15-45 % of chronic lower back pain. It is commonly diagnosed and treated using facet joint injections. This needle technique demands high accuracy, and ultrasound (US) is a potentially useful modality to guide the needle. US-guided injections, however, require physicians to interpret 2-D sonographic images while simultaneously manipulating an US probe and needle. Therefore, US-guidance for facet joint injections needs advanced training methodologies that will equip physicians with the requisite skills. Methods: We used Perk Tutor - an augmented reality training system for US-guided needle insertions - in a configuration for percutaneous procedures of the lumbar spine. In a pilot study of 26 pre-medical undergraduate students, we evaluated the efficacy of Perk Tutor training compared to traditional training. Results: The Perk Tutor Trained group, which had access to Perk Tutor during training, had a mean success rate of 61.5 %, while the Control group, which received traditional training, had a mean success rate of 38.5 % (p = 0.031). No significant differences in procedure times or needle path lengths were observed between the two groups. Conclusions: The results of this pilot study suggest that Perk Tutor provides an improved training environment for US-guided facet joint injections on a synthetic model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-836
Number of pages6
JournalInternational journal of computer assisted radiology and surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Facet joint injection
  • Medical education
  • Perk Tutor
  • Simulation training
  • Ultrasound-guidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Health Informatics
  • Surgery


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