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Hani J. Marcus, Archie Hughes-Hallett, Richard M. Kwasnicki, Ara Darzi, Guang-Zhong Yang and Dipankar Nandi

OBJECT

Technological innovation within health care may be defined as the introduction of a new technology that initiates a change in clinical practice. Neurosurgery is a particularly technology-intensive surgical discipline, and new technologies have preceded many of the major advances in operative neurosurgical techniques. The aim of the present study was to quantitatively evaluate technological innovation in neurosurgery using patents and peer-reviewed publications as metrics of technology development and clinical translation, respectively.

METHODS

The authors searched a patent database for articles published between 1960 and 2010 using the Boolean search term “neurosurgeon OR neurosurgical OR neurosurgery.” The top 50 performing patent codes were then grouped into technology clusters. Patent and publication growth curves were then generated for these technology clusters. A top-performing technology cluster was then selected as an exemplar for a more detailed analysis of individual patents.

RESULTS

In all, 11,672 patents and 208,203 publications related to neurosurgery were identified. The top-performing technology clusters during these 50 years were image-guidance devices, clinical neurophysiology devices, neuromodulation devices, operating microscopes, and endoscopes. In relation to image-guidance and neuromodulation devices, the authors found a highly correlated rapid rise in the numbers of patents and publications, which suggests that these are areas of technology expansion. An in-depth analysis of neuromodulation-device patents revealed that the majority of well-performing patents were related to deep brain stimulation.

CONCLUSIONS

Patent and publication data may be used to quantitatively evaluate technological innovation in neurosurgery.

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Hani J. Marcus, Philip Pratt, Archie Hughes-Hallett, Thomas P. Cundy, Adam P. Marcus, Guang-Zhong Yang, Ara Darzi and Dipankar Nandi

OBJECT

Over the last decade, image guidance systems have been widely adopted in neurosurgery. Nonetheless, the evidence supporting the use of these systems in surgery remains limited. The aim of this study was to compare simultaneously the effectiveness and safety of various image guidance systems against that of standard surgery.

METHODS

In this preclinical, randomized study, 50 novice surgeons were allocated to one of the following groups: 1) no image guidance, 2) triplanar display, 3) always-on solid overlay, 4) always-on wire mesh overlay, and 5) on-demand inverse realism overlay. Each participant was asked to identify a basilar tip aneurysm in a validated model head. The primary outcomes were time to task completion (in seconds) and tool path length (in mm). The secondary outcomes were recognition of an unexpected finding (i.e., a surgical clip) and subjective depth perception using a Likert scale.

RESULTS

The time to task completion and tool path length were significantly lower when using any form of image guidance compared with no image guidance (p < 0.001 and p = 0.003, respectively). The tool path distance was also lower in groups using augmented reality compared with triplanar display (p = 0.010). Always-on solid overlay resulted in the greatest inattentional blindness (20% recognition of unexpected finding). Wire mesh and on-demand overlays mitigated, but did not negate, inattentional blindness and were comparable to triplanar display (40% recognition of unexpected finding in all groups). Wire mesh and inverse realism overlays also resulted in better subjective depth perception than always-on solid overlay (p = 0.031 and p = 0.008, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

New augmented reality platforms may improve performance in less-experienced surgeons. However, all image display modalities, including existing triplanar displays, carry a risk of inattentional blindness.

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S. Harrison Farber, Steven Thomas, Gary Pace and Shivanand P. Lad