Enhancing Surgical Precision: The Influence of Extended Reality on Preoperative Planning for Spine Surgery

The pre-operative planning process for major spine surgery has traditionally relied on two-dimensional imaging techniques. While these methods, such as CT and MRI scans, provide valuable insights, they offer a fundamentally flat view of an inherently three-dimensional structure. Even with the advent of biplanar tools, surgeons lack the ability to fully visualize their patient’s spine in 3D. This limitation not only hinders physicians but also impacts patients, who may struggle to grasp the complexities of their conditions through these simple 2D representations. However, with the introduction of Surgical Theater’s eXperiential Reality (XR) platform, anatomical imaging is making a revolutionary leap forward. This tool is not just an enhancement of existing technologies but a comprehensive solution that enables surgeons to visualize, plan, and execute surgical procedures with unprecedented precision and understanding.

What is eXperiential Reality (XR)?

eXperiential Reality seamlessly integrates and synchronizes physical space with virtual worlds, transforming patient imaging into an immersive environment that transcends the boundaries of traditional medical visualization. From these two-dimensional images, detailed anatomical models can be created, allowing surgeons to visualize both bony and soft tissue structures in intricate detail. Surgeons can virtually navigate through their patient’s anatomy, accessing infinite perspectives of crucial physiological nuances, which significantly enhances the chances of successful interventions.

With Surgical Theater’s current XR Spine Platform, surgeons can fully comprehend the patient’s anatomy in all three planes, which is particularly crucial for tumor visualization. They can accurately plan the placement of screws and precisely determine the areas of bone that need to be resected. This meticulous planning is seamlessly executed in the operating room with the aid of advanced guidance and visualization tools.

Future Enhancements and AI Integration

Looking ahead, Surgical Theater is poised to enhance the XR platform significantly through the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). AI will automate the segmentation process and improve the understanding of vertebral morphology, enabling the creation of anatomically correct models from low-resolution MRIs that patients typically bring to their consultations. Additionally, AI will assist in automatically placing screws in the optimal location of the pedicle, ensuring greater precision and efficiency.

In the operating room, the experience will be further enriched by advanced AI capabilities. For instance, the platform will provide clear visualizations of the bone resection area, offer real-time guidance on what has been removed, and issue warnings when the drill approaches undesired areas. Different model perspectives will optimize visualization and information display, allowing surgeons to see the anatomy in unparalleled detail. Moreover, surgeons will have tools for seamless incision markings, which is especially beneficial for challenging minimally invasive surgery (MIS) cases.

Long-term Vision and Capabilities

Looking even further into the future, Surgical Theater aims to develop additional capabilities, such as automated three-dimensional correction planning and automated hardware planning, including screws, rods, and cages. These advancements have the potential to revolutionize the way surgeons plan in today’s predominantly 2D world. The introduction of 3D parameters could fundamentally transform how we characterize and understand the spine, leading to more effective and precise surgical interventions.

Bridging the Gap in Current Spinal Surgery Practices

There is an undeniable gap in current spinal surgery practices, rooted in the reliance on two-dimensional imaging and planning. Surgical Theater’s Spine XR Platform not only addresses this gap but offers a path forward that could significantly enhance surgical outcomes. The ability to plan and execute surgeries with a tool that mirrors the complex three-dimensionality of the human spine promises to improve not only the accuracy of surgical interventions but also the overall experience and results for patients.

In doing so, Surgical Theater stands as a beacon of progress in spinal surgery, benefiting surgeons, their teams, and, most importantly, their patients. This platform is not just a new tool—it is the next step in the evolution of surgical care.

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