Optimization of craniosynostosis surgery: virtual planning, intraoperative 3D photography and surgical navigation

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Craniosynostosis is a congenital defect defined as the premature fusion of one or more cranial sutures. This fusion leads to growth restriction and deformation of the cranium, caused by compensatory expansion parallel to the fused sutures. Surgical correction is the preferred treatment in most cases to excise the fused sutures and to normalize cranial shape. Although multiple technological advancements have arisen in the surgical management of craniosynostosis, interventional planning and surgical correction are still highly dependent on the subjective assessment and artistic judgment of craniofacial surgeons. Therefore, there is a high variability in individual surgeon performance and, thus, in the surgical outcomes. The main objective of this thesis was to explore different approaches to improve the surgical management of craniosynostosis by reducing subjectivity in all stages of the process, from the preoperative virtual planning phase to the intraoperative performance. First, we developed a novel framework for automatic planning of craniosynostosis surgery that enables: calculating a patient-specific normative reference shape to target, estimating optimal bone fragments for remodeling, and computing the most appropriate configuration of fragments in order to achieve the desired target cranial shape. Our results showed that automatic plans were accurate and achieved adequate overcorrection with respect to normative morphology. Surgeons’ feedback indicated that the integration of this technology could increase the accuracy and reduce the duration of the preoperative planning phase. Second, we validated the use of hand-held 3D photography for intraoperative evaluation of the surgical outcome. The accuracy of this technology for 3D modeling and morphology quantification was evaluated using computed tomography imaging as gold-standard. Our results demonstrated that 3D photography could be used to perform accurate 3D reconstructions of the anatomy during surgical interventions and to measure morphological metrics to provide feedback to the surgical team. This technology presents a valuable alternative to computed tomography imaging and can be easily integrated into the current surgical workflow to assist during the intervention. Also, we developed an intraoperative navigation system to provide real-time guidance during craniosynostosis surgeries. This system, based on optical tracking, enables to record the positions of remodeled bone fragments and compare them with the target virtual surgical plan. Our navigation system is based on patient-specific surgical guides, which fit into the patient’s anatomy, to perform patient-to-image registration. In addition, our workflow does not rely on patient’s head immobilization or invasive attachment of dynamic reference frames. After testing our system in five craniosynostosis surgeries, our results demonstrated a high navigation accuracy and optimal surgical outcomes in all cases. Furthermore, the use of navigation did not substantially increase the operative time. Finally, we investigated the use of augmented reality technology as an alternative to navigation for surgical guidance in craniosynostosis surgery. We developed an augmented reality application to visualize the virtual surgical plan overlaid on the surgical field, indicating the predefined osteotomy locations and target bone fragment positions. Our results demonstrated that augmented reality provides sub-millimetric accuracy when guiding both osteotomy and remodeling phases during open cranial vault remodeling. Surgeons’ feedback indicated that this technology could be integrated into the current surgical workflow for the treatment of craniosynostosis. To conclude, in this thesis we evaluated multiple technological advancements to improve the surgical management of craniosynostosis. The integration of these developments into the surgical workflow of craniosynostosis will positively impact the surgical outcomes, increase the efficiency of surgical interventions, and reduce the variability between surgeons and institutions.
Mención Internacional en el título de doctor
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