Objective: Computer-assisted frameless navigation techniques are used in many centers for intracranial neurosurgical procedures. In this study, we assessed the accuracy and the clinical usefulness of a frameless system based on the optical digitizer in a variety of intracranial procedures.
Methods: The optical digitizer (StealthStation, Sofamor Danek, Memphis, TN) was used to perform 170 neurosurgical operations. Its accuracy was judged before and after each operation by comparing the computer-estimated error with the real estimated error measured on the patient's anatomy. Several objective factors were evaluated to assess the clinical usefulness of the optical digitizer. For craniotomies, the intraoperative extent of resection based on computer-generated images was compared with that on postoperative images, and the length of hospital stay of patients undergoing frameless procedures was compared with that of patients undergoing conventional procedures. For needle biopsies, clinical usefulness was based on the rate of success in establishing a histological diagnosis.
Results: The optical digitizer was accurate to within 2 mm for all procedures. The computer-estimated error was not significantly different from the real estimated error. The intraoperative extent of resection was accurate in 58 of 60 tumor resection patients, as confirmed on postoperative images. Patients undergoing frameless procedures had a significantly shorter hospital stay than those undergoing conventional procedures (7.5 +/- 1 versus 10.8 +/- 1.3 d, P < 0.05). All biopsies were diagnostic.
Conclusion: The optical digitizer is an accurate frameless device that offers clinical benefits. These include precise surgical resection, decreased hospitalization time, and accurate tissue diagnosis.