In conventional surgery pre-operative images are largely used for diagnosis only and are present in theater only as a series of slices on a light-box. The positional relationship between these images and the patient's anatomy is established only in the mind of the surgeon. The three-dimensional nature of modern imaging techniques (e.g. MRI and CT) is under-utilized in such a scenario.
The aim of image-guided surgery is to align the 3D pre-operative images to the patient on the operating table and to present the accurately aligned image data to the surgeon in a manner that aids navigation. The technical problem can be stated as follows. We have accurate 3D information about patient anatomy and pathology from pre-operative scans. We wish to establish a correspondence between the image data and the physical space of the patient in order to present the surgeon with well-aligned anatomical information using a suitable visualization scheme.
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