There are three steps that need to be taken in order for a doctor to use neuronavigation during a surgery.
1. First, depending on whether it’s the bony structures or the soft tissues being operated on, the patient must have a CAT scan or an MRI done. In the former, bones serve as natural landmarks that can be used during registration (a process discussed in the third step). However, in soft-tissue surgeries for which an MRI is done instead, there are no such natural landmarks on which to rely; in these procedures, sponge-like fiducials that are visible on an MRI are placed on the patient’s head instead.
2. In the second step, these images are downloaded onto a computer, and a three-dimensional model of the brain, spine, or sinus is made.
3. Lastly, the computer-generated model must be mapped to the actual structures of the patient in a process called registration. Registration is the process of touching an area on the patient using a probe, and then touching the corresponding area on the screen. This is done many times, until a correlation can be made between the image and the patient. After these three steps, the surgeon can readily utilize neuronavigation during the surgery.
Board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Ilyas Munshi specializes in several areas, including minimally-invasive surgery and using neuronavigation technology during computer-assisted image-guided surgery.