Objective: We have developed an overlaid three-dimensional image (Volumegraph)-guided navigation system that allows navigation during operative procedures. The three-dimensional image is superimposed on the patient's head and body via a semi-transparent mirror. The Volumegraph can display three-dimensional images in the air by a light beam which is based on CT/MRI. Method: The system consists of a Volumegraph (thin plate of three- dimensional recorded medium), a Volumegraphscope and an original designed triangular-shaped marker system for registration. The three-dimensional data obtained from CT and MRI before the operation were processed by a computer. Such image data are applied for preoperative investigation to recognize the three-dimensional structure of organs and tumor. These reconstructed three- dimensional images were superimposed and registered at the patient's head according to a fiducial marker (registration). Then the operator can operate with this three-dimensional-image-guided navigation system. Results: Based on clinical application in 7 cases, the system was found to be advantageous because the surgical procedures could be navigated easily by augmented reality in the surgical field. Invisible parts of the surgical field were supplemented with the overlaid three-dimensional images (Volumegraph) as if it were the virtual operative field. At another time, spatial positioning and over- laid visualization by the Volumegraph was useful for identifying anatomical structures and functional location in the image. Conclusion: This preliminary study of overlaid three-dimensional-image-guided navigation demonstrated its clinical usefulness. The application of augmented reality in the surgical field makes it possible to do a neurosurgical intervention easily and accurately.
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