Universal calibration of surgical instruments for spinal stereotaxy

Kee D. Kim, J. Patrick Johnson*, Jeffery E. Masciopinto, Orin Bloch, Michael J. Saracen, J. Pablo Villablanca

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To describe new software applications and interchangeable instrumentation enabling the use of standard surgical instruments with image- guided systems for stereotactic spinal procedures. CONCEPT: The ability to adapt essentially any surgical instrument for stereotactic procedures will improve the safety and accuracy of image-guided spinal surgery. RATIONALE: Using universal dynamic registration hardware and software, standard surgical instruments are adapted for real-time image-guided surgery. The Radionics Optical Tracking System (Radionics, Inc., Burlington, MA) has custom software applications and universal hardware adaptation devices for spinal stereotaxy that allows the use of standard instruments for intraoperative guidance. An array of light-emitting diodes can be attached to essentially any rigid instrument with a definable tip and can then be calibrated to the system for intraoperative use. Stereotactic guidance of a drill, tap, and screwdriver may improve screw placement accuracy in spinal surgery because every step of the procedure can be monitored in real time. DISCUSSION: Most stereotactic systems have only a standard probe or limited instruments for localization, targeting, and tracking a procedure. The surgeon then resumes the operation using standard surgical instruments without the benefit of image guidance for the key steps of the procedure. Because each surgical step for screw placement in the spine has a potential for error, use of multiple instruments that can be interchanged for real-time image-guided spinal surgery may increase the accuracy and safety of spinal instrumentation procedures. These techniques can also be applied to intracranial image-guided surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-178
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999


  • Frameless stereotaxy
  • Image guidance
  • Spinal instrumentation
  • Universal instrument registration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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