Using data fusion to enhance surgical navigation and visualisation

Authors: Rob Morgan, VP – Medical and Ross Jones – Principal Consultant  

Advanced navigation and visualisation technologies facilitate challenging surgeries and enable less experienced surgeons to achieve better outcomes. Yet as these technologies become more complex, they can add time to simpler procedures and place a greater cognitive burden on the surgeon. In this whitepaper, we discuss the use of data fusion techniques to address this problem.

As surgical navigation and visualisation technologies become more advanced, they also become more complex, potentially negating the benefits they bring. As well as taking time to set up, they can increase cognitive load during surgery and may result in procedures taking longer. For instance, surgeons might be required to compare multiple real-time images with a pre-operative scan or model, without automatic registration of the images.

Here, we consider how data fusion techniques can integrate surgical data sources for more cohesive, useful navigation and visualisation support. We start by looking at Computer Assisted Surgery for orthopaedics, which introduces elements of data fusion, and the development of ‘pinless’ navigation. This leads us to the more challenging application of soft tissue navigation for oncology. We describe data fusion approaches currently being explored in a research capacity and obstacles to their implementation in the operating room. Finally, we outline key prospects for surgical navigation in soft tissue, highlighting the importance of surgeon interaction.

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