Augmented reality (AR) is an imaging technology by which virtual objects are overlaid onto images of real objects captured in real time by a tracking camera. This study aimed to introduce a novel AR guidance system called virtual protractor with augmented reality (VIPAR) to visualize a needle trajectory in 3D space during percutaneous vertebroplasty (PVP).
The AR system used for this study comprised a head-mount display (HMD) with a tracking camera and a marker sheet. An augmented scene was created by overlaying the preoperatively generated needle trajectory path onto a marker detected on the patient using AR software, thereby providing the surgeon with augmented views in real time through the HMD. The accuracy of the system was evaluated by using a computer-generated simulation model in a spine phantom and also evaluated clinically in 5 patients.
In the 40 spine phantom trials, the error of the insertion angle (EIA), defined as the difference between the attempted angle and the insertion angle, was evaluated using 3D CT scanning. Computed tomography analysis of the 40 spine phantom trials showed that the EIA in the axial plane significantly improved when VIPAR was used compared with when it was not used (0.96° ± 0.61° vs 4.34° ± 2.36°, respectively). The same held true for EIA in the sagittal plane (0.61° ± 0.70° vs 2.55° ± 1.93°, respectively).
In the clinical evaluation of the AR system, 5 patients with osteoporotic vertebral fractures underwent VIPAR-guided PVP from October 2011 to May 2012. The postoperative EIA was evaluated using CT. The clinical results of the 5 patients showed that the EIA in all 10 needle insertions was 2.09° ± 1.3° in the axial plane and 1.98° ± 1.8° in the sagittal plane. There was no pedicle breach or leakage of polymethylmethacrylate.
VIPAR was successfully used to assist in needle insertion during PVP by providing the surgeon with an ideal insertion point and needle trajectory through the HMD. The findings indicate that AR guidance technology can become a useful assistive device during spine surgeries requiring percutaneous procedures.