New surgical navigation ‘like the GPS in your car’
Similar to the GPS devices we’ve become dependent upon in our cars, new technology allows doctors to perform minimally invasive spine surgery with incredible accuracy.
Three-dimensional navigation enhances visualization for this complicated lumbar fusion surgery, resulting in a quicker recovery time for patients, explains Dr. Steven Mather, an orthopedic surgeon who performs the procedure.
“The 3-D navigation works just like the GPS in your car,” says Dr. Mather, who treats patients at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “However the accuracy – because it’s used in small distances – is accurate to less than 1 millimeter.”
Spinal fusion surgery is performed on patients who are experiencing extreme back pain; the surgery permanently joins together two or more bones (vertebrae) in the spine so there is no movement between them. If the painful vertebrae do not move, they should not cause pain.
Mather utilizes the computer-aided navigation system to pinpoint the areas to fuse.
“It’s much like playing a video game,” he says.
About the Author
Lisa Parro, health enews contributor, is manager of content strategy for Advocate Aurora Health. A former journalist, Lisa has been in health care public relations since 2008 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She and her family live in Chicago’s western suburbs.