Image Guided Surgery

What is Image-Guided Surgery? 

Image-guided surgery is a term used to describe surgical procedures that combine computed tomography (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and light emitting diode cameras (LEDs) to help surgeons navigate their way through hard to reach parts of the body with the help of three-dimensional images.

Image-guided surgical navigation allows surgeons to “look” inside of the body and see infected tissue inside of cavities, narrow passageways inside of arteries and awkwardly positioned tumors deep inside of the brain.

Why was Image-Guided Surgery Developed?

Traditionally, surgeons have had to rely on two-dimensional X-rays coupled with their knowledge of human anatomy to prepare for surgical procedures. Because all patients’ anatomies aren’t uniform or identical to medical text illustrations, this can be challenging.

Once patients are opened up, surgeons relying on traditional methods are then only able to see the part of the anatomy that is exposed. This leaves patients with tumors deeply embedded in healthy tissue very vulnerable.

Thanks to the development of Global Positioning Systems, a military technology that uses satellites to track vehicles anywhere on the globe, medical scientists began to realize that they could measure the precise location of an object within the body without actually "seeing" it with the naked eye.

What are the Advantages of Image-Guided Surgery?

Image-guided procedures are substantially less invasive than traditional surgery. Because the image-guided technology is so precise and accurate, surgeons can decide how best to get to a targeted area and avoid healthy tissue before an incision is ever made.

All of this precision shortens operating times and allows for smaller incisions, which translates into speedier recoveries and better results for patients. It also means that patients with conditions considered "inoperable" in the past now have an option.

How Does the Technology Work?

Several days before surgery, internal images are taken of the patient with either a CT scan or an MRI. These two-dimensional images are then converted into three-dimensional images with the help of sophisticated computer software.

On the day of the surgery,the patient is fitted with a special probe that has light emitting diodes (LEDs) attached to it. A camera, which is hooked up to the computer, tracks the LEDs as the surgeon moves. The three-dimensional images are synchronized with real-time information provided by the camera and can be manipulated by the surgeon using a touch-screen or mouse.

What is Image-Guided Surgery Used for?

Image-guided surgery can be used for:

  • Traumatic Spinal Injury procedures

  • Decompressing Nerve Roots

  • Sinus Surgery

  • Brain Tumor Biopsies

  • Optic Decompression

  • Cyst and Polyp Removal

  • Tumor Resection

  • Reconstructive Orthopaedic Surgery

Why Should I Come to the University of Maryland Medical Center for my Image-Guided Surgical Procedure?

Our surgeons have a lot of experience in using image-guided techniques. In fact, our Center for Skull Base Surgery at the Medical Center has become a recognized leader in the development of image-guided surgery.

For more information about the University of Maryland Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, or to make an appointment, call the University Physicians Consultation and Referral Service at 1-800-492-5538 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).