Sant Joan de Déu performs a pioneering scoliosis operation with augmented reality

A team from the Orthopedics and Traumatology Service of the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital in Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona) has used, for the first time in Spain, the Augmented reality in a scoliosis intervention.

The patient who has benefited from this new technology – called ClarifEye, Surgical Navigation by Augmented Reality, developed by Philips- is a 16-year-old from Bilbao who suffered from scoliosis with a curvature of the spine of 70 degrees that forced her to walk leaning to one side, explained this Wednesday the hospital in a statement.

People with such a pronounced curvature of the spine may also suffer from severe back pain, respiratory failure, heart failure or spinal cord compression problems.

Thanks to augmented reality, orthopedic surgeons can have images of the area they are operating on fused in real time with other images of the surgery planning.

Is juxtaposition of images allows the surgeon to carry out the intervention as planned, and helps them to introduce in the precise place 94% of the screws they have to place on the patient’s spine to correct the curvature.

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Advantages of the new technique

Until now, surgeons used the so-called ‘hands-free’ technique, which consists of taking anatomical references and palpating with the help of surgical instruments to determine where to insert the screws.

It is estimated that using this technique between 20% and 40% of the screws are placed in a less precise way, while with the new augmented reality technology this percentage down to 6%, ostensibly reducing the risk of reintervention.

From the spine surgery team of the Sant Joan de Déu Orthopedics and Traumatology Service, doctors Alejandro Peiró and Imma Vilalta have stressed that augmented reality is especially useful when taking anatomical references is difficult, as in the case of very severe deformities, when the vertebrae do not have a normal shape and there is also a vertebral malformation.

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In this regard, they have pointed out that ClarifEye technology will be especially useful for non-invasively intervening in less severe scoliosis -those that do not require bone resection- and that until now have been performed by open surgery.

Likewise, specialists from Sant Joan de Déu are working to extend this technology to other areas such as tumor surgery, corrective surgery for skeletal dysplasias or corrective surgery for complex limb deformities and malformations.

“Through innovation, we want to help improve procedures and help healthcare professionals meet the fourfold goal of improving health outcomes, improving patient experience and staff satisfaction, and reducing the cost of healthcare.” , and our latest spinal surgery innovation is a great example,” said Philips CEO Karim Boussebaa.

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