Today, doctors are using computerized technologies that are familiar to people in the consumer world to help fight cancer in the operating room. An important example of that application is image-guided surgery (IGS) and it helps surgeons perform safer and less invasive  procedures and remove brain tumors that were once considered inoperable due to their size and/or location.
Image-guided surgery is the general term used for any surgical procedure where the surgeon utilizes tracked surgical instruments in conjunction with preoperative or intraoperative images in order to indirectly guide the procedure. Image guided surgery systems use cameras or electromagnetic fields to capture and relay the patient's anatomy and the surgeon's precise movements in relation to the patient, to computer monitors in the operating room. These sophisticated computerized systems, like Curve Image Guided Surgery, Kick Navigation and StealthStation are used before and during surgery to help orient the surgeon with three-dimensional images of the patient's anatomy including the tumor.
The various applications of navigation for neurosurgery have been widely used and reported for almost two decades. According to a study in 2000, researchers were already anticipating that a significant portion of neurosurgery would be performed using computer-based interventions.
Part of the wider field of computer-assisted surgery, image-guided surgery can take place in hybrid operating rooms using intraoperative imaging. A hybrid operating room is a surgical theatre that is equipped with advanced medical imaging devices such as fixed C-Arms, CT scanners or MRI scanners. Most image-guided surgical procedures are minimally invasive. A field of medicine that pioneered and specializes in minimally invasive image-guided surgery is interventional radiology.
Image-guided surgery was originally developed for treatment of brain tumors using stereotactic surgery and radiosurgery that are guided by computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) using a technology known as the N-localizer. Image-guided surgery has found wide application in surgery of the sinuses, where it helps to avoid damage to brain and nervous system.
A hand-held surgical probe is an essential component of any image-guided surgery system. During the surgical procedure, the IGS tracks the probe position and displays the anatomy beneath it as, for example, three orthogonal image slices on a workstation-based 3D imaging system. Existing IGS systems use different tracking techniques including mechanical, optical, ultrasonic, and electromagnetic.
- Computer assisted surgery
- Interventional radiology
- Intraoperative MRI
- Stereotactic surgery
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