Sant Joan de Déu makes a pioneering operation for scoliosis 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 novel technology – called ClarifEye, Surgical Navigation by Augmented Reality, developed by Philips- is a 16-year-old young man from Bilbao who suffered from scoliosis with a curvature of the spine of 70 degrees that forced her to walk leaning to one side, the hospital explained this Wednesday in a statement.

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

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

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

Advantages of the new technique

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

It is estimated that by means of this technique between 20% and 40% of the screws are placed in a not so precise way, while with the new augmented reality technology this percentage drops to 6%, ostensibly reducing the risk of reoperation.

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

In this regard, they have pointed out that ClarifEye technology will be especially useful to intervene in a non-invasive way in less severe scoliosis – those that do not require bone resection – and that until now are performed by open surgery.

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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 correction 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 innovation in spinal surgery is a great example, “said Philips CEO Karim Boussebaa.

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