YOUR HEALTH: Better back surgery with machine vision technology

An estimated 500,000 lumbar spine surgeries are done every year.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 5:09 AM CDT
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NEW YORK, N.Y. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Back pain is the leading cause of disability among American adults under the age of 65. An estimated 500,000 lumbar spine surgeries are done every year. Now, new technology that is similar to the navigation system for self-driving cars is improving accuracy and patient safety in the operating room.

For 66-year-old Sam DeMaria, this is a victory. DeMaria’s been living with chronic back pain for 15 years. DeMaria had six back surgeries over the years. The first five brought temporary relief, but then he’d be laid up again.

“The only comfort I had was in my bed, on my back, with pillows under my leg. That was it. If I came downstairs, I lasted five minutes, went right back upstairs,” DeMaria recalls.

Mount Sinai neurosurgeon, Jeremy Steinberger, MD explains, “He had scoliosis and multi-level, basically, numerous nerves that were getting compressed in numerous places.”

Dr. Steinberger and his team performed DeMaria’s sixth surgery, but this time, they had a new navigation system - using machine vision technology.

“You can basically touch a probe to the patient, and you see where you are on the patient’s spine,” Dr. Steinberger tells Ivanhoe.

Machine vision technology is similar to the technology and sophisticated software used in self-driving cars. In a surgical suite, special cameras analyze the anatomy and create a 3D image. A light overhead takes a ‘flash’ image. In four seconds, it gives surgeons thousands of fiducial points to register a patient’s CT scans.

Dr. Steinberger adds, “That’s what links the patient to the technology and that’s when you can check to confirm that you’re accurate.”

DeMaria exclaims, “I was pain-free after the surgery. I’m standing up straight and that’s what I wanted to accomplish.”

One added benefit to the technology is that the new navigation system does not require a patient to have fluoroscopy medical imaging that requires a continuous X-ray image on a monitor so that reduces radiation.

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