Health Team

New technology streamlines orthopaedic surgery

Posted October 4, 2013 3:35 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2013 6:45 p.m. EDT

— Staffers at Duke University Hospital were recently trained on new intraoperative CT technology.

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. William Richardson said no one has ever seen anything like it.

“This is the first ceiling-mounted CT scanner in the world,” he said.

The scanner hovers less than an inch from the floor, so it’s not running over cables or tubes. When not in use, it rides on ceiling tracks behind huge protective doors. When it is needed, the machine moves into either of two operating rooms.

“It increases our productivity and helps more than one patient at a time,” Richardson said.

The scanner moves in tandem with the operating table. The device, called Brain Lab, has cameras that track where the patient is during a scan. Then it helps surgeons guide special tools.

“Now with the CT scanner out of the room, we can actually track where we’re putting in screws with virtual reality,” Richardson said.

In the past, the same procedure may have been done with imaging in a separate room days or weeks prior, then with real time X-rays called fluoroscopy during surgery.

“And with fluoroscopy, every time you push the button, you’re exposing yourself and your team to radiation,” Richardson said. “So, [the new CT scanner] really decreases the radiation dosage,” he added.

Also, radiation can be adjusted to the minimum detail surgeons need, which means less radiation and a more streamlined experience for the patient.

Orthopaedic and neurosurgery are the most obvious uses for the technology.

“But I think with time, we’re sort of going to expand applications as we become more familiar with the technology,” Richardson said.