Functional neurosurgical interventions such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) are traditionally performed with the aid of a stereotactic frame. Although frameless techniques have been perceived as less accurate, data from a recent phantom study of a modified frameless approach demonstrated a laboratory accuracy exceeding that obtained using a common frame system. The present study was conducted to evaluate the accuracy of a frameless system in routine clinical use.
Deep brain stimulation leads were implanted in 38 patients by using a skull-mounted trajectory guide and an image-guided workstation. Registration was accomplished with bone fiducial markers. Final lead positions were measured on postoperative computerized tomography scans and compared with the planned lead positions. The accuracy of the Leksell frame within the clinical situation has been reported on in a recent study; these raw data served as a comparison data set.
The difference between expected and actual lead locations in the x plane was 1.4 mm in the frame-based procedure and 1.6 mm in the frameless procedure. Similarly, the difference in the y plane was 1.6 mm in the frame-based system and 1.3 mm in the frameless one. The error was greatest in the z plane, that is, 1.7 mm in the frame-based method and 2 mm in the frameless system. Multivariate analysis of variance demonstrated no statistically significant difference in the accuracy of the two methods.
The accuracy of the frame-based and frameless systems was not statistically significantly different (p = 0.22). Note, however, that frameless techniques offer advantages in patient comfort, separation of imaging from surgery, and decreased operating time.