For the past two decades, surgeons have implemented various surgery methods and technologies to aid safe and successful procedures on patients. However, in recent times, computer-based solutions have augmented the medical field – thanks to the advancement in technology. One notable application that plays an essential role in several surgical operations is Image-Guided Surgery (IGS). This advanced navigational system makes it easy for surgeons to perform complex, but less invasive operations, including the removal of malignant tumours. Gone are those days when it was impossible to operate on these cancerous tumours due to their sheer size and accessibility.

Image-guided surgery bears other names like computer-assisted surgery, stereotaxis, navigated surgery, and stereotactic navigation. An image-guided surgical system works like a global positioning system (GPS) in the sense that it visually maps out the human anatomy and provides surgeons with high precision to perform surgical procedures in the operating theatre. In other words, these medical experts can operate on patients safely and easily using three-dimensional images. During brain surgery (craniotomy), they can pinpoint the exact size, position, and location of a brain tumour by examining the brain structure, which makes it easy to devise easy access to the affected area.

What Makes Image-Guided Surgical Systems Valuable?

With image-guided surgery, surgeons can plan an ideal surgical process in relationship with plotting the ideal route to the operational area, mapping the ideal location to create an incision, and avoiding delicate body structures during surgery. This technology can be likened to a pair of eyes that aid visuals to detect abnormalities in the human body, including intracranial tumour. These medical practitioners can perform surgery in real-time using the 3-D view image-guided surgical systems provide. By doing so, they can reduce complications, while carrying out a successful operation on the patient.

Image-guided surgery has reduced surgical invasiveness, incision size, and procedure timeframes. Patients who undergo surgical procedures using this technology have witnessed improved recoveries, including those with multiple health conditions.

Image-Guided Surgical System Components

IGS systems comprise of several cutting-edge technologies with various applications in image processing and navigation, which produce 3-D images of a patient’s anatomy. Hence, surgeons can perform delicate procedures using these technological systems and surgical instruments, without seeing the target area physically. Two components make up an image-guided surgical system – a tracking system and an image-processor. Using optical techniques, the image-processing system acquires images of the body and process them. Such techniques include the following:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Ultrasound
  • Fluoroscopy

The tracking system incorporates electromagnetic navigators and optical localisers to track infra-red rays from LED surgical instruments. These instruments are equipped with reflectors that mirror images for computer image analysis.

IGS Systems in Neurology

Neurosurgery witnessed the first use of image-guided systems. IGS technology has paved the way for several neurosurgical procedures through the implementation of image acquisition, image manipulation, and seamless navigation. One application of this surgical technique that has maintained a top spot in the medical field is endoscopic cranial surgery. During this procedure, surgeons drill small holes on the skull, through which they can insert a tiny camera along with a surgical instrument to perform operations. In actuality, this type of surgery is popular in Western Europe.

Performing surgeries using IGS systems increase accuracy and reduce risks. It is easy for neurosurgeons to remove brain tumours without damaging healthy brain tissues. As a result, this technology has gained wide acceptance in the medical industry. The demand for image-guided surgery keeps soaring over time, as new technologies augment existing systems.

IGS Systems in Orthopaedics

Image-guided surgical systems are not limited to neurology and neurosurgery. In actuality, other areas also benefit from this technology, including orthopaedic surgeries. For instance, medical practitioners can use IGS technology to perform ligament reconstruction, knee and hip replacement, and other treatment procedures. This medical technology has a wide market in Western Europe, which more outreach in Germany. Surgeons can perform orthopaedic surgery using IGS systems while limiting complications and medical errors. As such, the demand for this procedure keeps increasing significantly.

IGS Systems in ENT Treatment

Surgeries relating to the ear, nose, and throat require professional medical experience and surgical instruments to perform. This requirement results from the anatomical structures of these body parts that provide surgeons with hindered visuals. Hence, they have to use image-guided instruments to perform delicate procedures, some of which include the following:

  • ENT surgery
  • Sinus surgery
  • Optic decompression
  • Polyp removal
  • Skull-base surgery

The image-guided system provides a 3-D image of the anatomy regarding the area of treatment. It is easy for surgeons to see what they are operating on, without having to tear open the patient’s vital organs. Additionally, they can save time and limit the risks associated with such intricate procedures.

Trends Linked to the Use of Image-Guided Surgical Systems

Thanks to IGS systems, surgeons can undertake the most delicate procedures with high precision, successfully; this also comes with the aid of surgical robots. For example, they can perform cranial surgeries using these high-end precision instruments, without damaging delicate brain organs. As a result, there is wide acceptance of this technology, both in Western Europe and other parts of the world. These systems have set the platform for future surgical procedures, as technology continues to advance.

In the meantime, there has been a lot of advancements in the medical field, especially in the area of surgery, as image-guided surgical systems continue to improve accuracy in procedures, such as tumour resection. Before the use of this technology, surgeons had to use open surgical techniques, which had its risks and also elongated procedure time. Currently, surgical positioning systems, like endoscopic positioning systems have bridged that gap. It is now easier for these medical experts to create tiny incisions to access the area of treatment while gaining significant visualization and access. Consequently, patients can recover faster, which is a plus to the medical field.

Another area worth noting is the implementation of computer-assisted and robotic endoscopy in several surgical fields. This novel trend involves the use of the following:

  • High-end information processing methods
  • Advanced tracking systems
  • Graphics
  • Computer vision
  • Medical imaging
  • Planning and simulation
  • Endoscopy
  • Control systems for surgical instruments
  • Robotics

Using this technology, surgeons can curb medical uncertainties linked to intricate procedures, especially in small anatomical areas. An example of such medical technology includes the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to map out surgical routes and navigate them using precise image guidance and surgical tools. With such cutting-edge techniques, the medical industry will experience significant growth.