Computer Aided Surgery

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Computer-assisted or computer-aided surgery is a broad term used to describe an operation where computer technology and imaging scans are used to generate a three-dimensional image of an organ. For instance, in neurosurgery, doctors would use the model to accurately navigate and operate on a tumor or any other lesion in the brain.

Previously, surgeons had to make large incisions to get a full view of the organ of interest and other surrounding structures to identify the site of the procedure. With computer-aided surgery, however, doctors can:

  • Identify the critical structures and find effective ways to avoid them
  • Make significantly smaller incisions and openings
  • Perform complex surgeries in a shorter duration
  • Perform minimally invasive procedures
  • Strategize beforehand and even simulate the best surgical technique to use

An important component of computer-aided surgery involves developing an accurate 3D anatomical model of the patient. This is achieved using various imaging technologies like ultrasound, X-rays, CT, and MRI, although CT is the most preferred scanning method. Some of the other technologies have been known to generate volumetric deformations.

Once the anatomical region destined for the procedure is scanned and uploaded into the computer system using the most appropriate method, the datasets are then combined using various data fusion techniques. The result is an accurate 3D model representing the organ of interest, surrounding structures, and pathological tissues of the surgical site.

The most common type of computer-aided surgery system in use today is the Robotically-Assisted Surgical (RAS) device. It allows the surgeon to use computer and software technology to move and control surgical instruments through one or more tiny incisions made on the patient. RAS devices are used for a wide range of surgical procedures and particularly useful for complex operations in hard-to-reach areas of the body.

Popular application fields of computer-aided surgery include:

  • Cardiology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Orthopedics
  • Radiosurgery
  • Visceral surgery
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