AdventHealth for Children, a Central Florida-based pediatric hospital and specialist network, recently achieved a successful cranial vault remodeling surgery using the VisAR augmented reality surgical navigation system. This surgery, aimed at correcting craniosynostosis and reshaping a child’s skull, showcases the efficacy of augmented reality (AR) in guiding intricate surgical procedures.

Craniosynostosis is a congenital condition in which an infant’s skull bones fuse prematurely, resulting in an abnormal head shape and potential developmental issues. The surgical team at AdventHealth for Children, led by chief of pediatric plastic surgery, Raj Sawh-Martinez, MD, MHS, FACS, harnessed the capabilities of VisAR surgical navigation during surgery and compared a more conventional approach using 3D printed templates. The VisAR system projected the planned surgical cuts needed to correct the deformity through the VisAR heads up display onto the surface of the child’s skull, which were then marked with a surgical marker.

VisAR provided real-time, 3D visualization of the patient’s anatomy during the operation, as well as enhanced precision and accuracy. Traditional craniosynostosis surgery requires multiple highly involved steps to complete. AR technology promises to allow surgeons to navigate the complex correctional cuts with detailed visualization, simplifying the surgery.

Craniosynostosis surgery is typically performed either free hand or using 3D-printed guides to assist the surgeon in marking and reconstructing a child’s skull. When comparing AR navigation to the 3D-printed guide, Sawh-Martinez says: “The functionality and precision of this new technology is incredible. AR navigation is the holy grail for these types of surgeries, and we’re so excited to be able to offer it to patients and families and make lasting impacts in the lives of children with craniofacial conditions.” 

VisAR offers real-time superimposition in 3D space of the patients preoperative MR or CT and patient-specific anatomical overlays. It has been used in an array of surgical disciplines throughout the world, including spine, neurosurgery, orthopedics, interventional radiology, and plastic surgery. Its applications continue to expand.

VisAR has been used for surgery in eight different countries, is U.S. FDA-cleared for stereotactic spinal surgery, and is currently available for purchase in the U.S., Mexico, and Indonesia. A cranial indication is pending with the FDA.

Featured image: Dr. Raj Sawh-Martinez using VisAR Augmented Reality Surgical Navigation for craniosynostosis surgery.