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Virtual fluoroscopy for intraoperative C-arm positioning and radiation dose reduction


Positioning of an intraoperative C-arm to achieve clear visualization of a particular anatomical feature often involves repeated fluoroscopic views, which cost time and radiation exposure to both the patient and surgical staff. A system for virtual fluoroscopy (called FluoroSim) that could dramatically reduce time- and dose-spent "fluoro-hunting" by leveraging preoperative computed tomography (CT), encoded readout of C-arm gantry position, and automatic 3D-2D image registration has been developed. The method is consistent with existing surgical workflow and does not require additional tracking equipment. Real-time virtual fluoroscopy was achieved via mechanical encoding of the C-arm motion, C-arm geometric calibration, and patient registration using a single radiograph. The accuracy, time, and radiation dose associated with C-arm positioning were measured for FluoroSim in comparison with conventional methods. Five radiology technologists were tasked with acquiring six standard pelvic views pertinent to sacro-illiac, anterior-inferior iliac spine, and superior-ramus screw placement in an anthropomorphic pelvis phantom using conventional and FluoroSim approaches. The positioning accuracy, exposure time, number of exposures, and total time for each trial were recorded, and radiation dose was characterized in terms of entrance skin dose and in-room scatter. The geometric accuracy of FluoroSim was measured to be [Formula: see text]. There was no significant difference ([Formula: see text]) observed in the accuracy or total elapsed time for C-arm positioning. However, the total fluoroscopy time required to achieve the desired view decreased by 4.1 s ([Formula: see text] for conventional, compared with [Formula: see text] for FluoroSim, [Formula: see text]), and the total number of exposures reduced by 4.0 ([Formula: see text] for conventional, compared with [Formula: see text] for FluoroSim, [Formula: see text]). These reductions amounted to a 50% to 78% decrease in patient entrance skin dose and a 55% to 70% reduction in in-room scatter. FluoroSim was found to reduce the radiation exposure required in C-arm positioning without diminishing positioning time or accuracy, providing a potentially valuable tool to assist technologists and surgeons.

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A. Jay Khanna, MD


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