Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Using Augmented Reality Surgical Navigation for Percutaneous Pedicle Screw Placement

Study design:

This was a retrospective observational study.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of percutaneous pedicle screw placement using augmented reality surgical navigation during minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF).

Summary of background data:

Augmented reality-based navigation is a new type of computer-assisted navigation where video cameras are used instead of infrared cameras to track the operated patients and surgical instruments. This technology has not so far been clinically evaluated for percutaneous pedicle screw placement.

Materials and methods:

The study assessed percutaneous pedicle screw placement in 20 consecutive patients who underwent single-level minimally invasive TLIF using augmented reality surgical navigation. Facet joint violation and depression by the inserted pedicle screws were evaluated. Secondary outcome such as radiation dose exposure, fluoroscopy time, and operative time were collected for 3 phases of surgery: preparation phase, pedicle screw placement, and decompression with cage placement.


A clinical accuracy for screw placement within the pedicle (Gertzbein 0 or 1) of 94% was achieved. One screw violated the facet joint with a transarticular pathway. The screw head did not depress the facet in 54%. The use of fluoroscopy during navigation correlated with patient body-mass index (r=0.68, P<0.0001). The pedicle screw placement time corresponded to 36±5% of the total operative time of 117±11 minutes. A statistically significant decrease of 10 minutes in operative time was observed between the first and last 10 procedures which corresponded to the pedicle screw placement time decrease (48±9 vs. 38±7 min, P=0.0142). The learning curve model suggests an ultimate operative time decrease to 97 minutes.


Augmented reality surgical navigation can be clinically used to place percutaneous screws during minimally invasive TLIF. However, the lack of tracking of the location of the device requires intraoperative fluoroscopy to monitor screw insertion depth especially in obese patients.

Level of evidence:

Level III.

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