Background: Cranial surgical navigation is most commonly performed by registration with fiducial markers, optic tracking, and intermittent pointer-based application.
Objective: To assess the accuracy and applicability of an advanced cranial navigation setup.
Methods: Continuous electromagnetic instrument navigation was used in 136 neurosurgical cases with a standard navigation system. A phantom head in an intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging environment was used to compare the accuracy of the advanced and standard navigation setups.
Results: A navigated suction device was used in 71 cases of intracranial tumor surgery and 46 cases of endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery. The ventriculoscope was navigated in 6 cases and the stereotactic biopsy needle in 4 cases. Electromagnetic tracking was used for catheter placement in 9 cases. The learning curve comprised 6 of the 136 cases during the first month of application. No significant difference was observed at the intracranial target points between the standard navigation setup using optic tracking, fiducial marker registration, and pointer and the advanced navigation setup with electromagnetic tracking, surface-based registration, and navigation of a field-detecting stylet in a standard metal suction tube when performed outside the 5-G line of the 3.0-T intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging.
Conclusion: Continuous instrument navigation is the prerequisite for seamless integration of navigation systems into the neurosurgical operating workflow. Our data confirm that the application of preoperative imaging, surface-merge registration, and continuous electromagnetic tip-tracked instrument navigation may provide such integration without a significant reduction in accuracy compared with standard navigation.