Augmented reality navigation for minimally invasive craniosynostosis surgery: a phantom study

Abdullah Thabit*, Mohamed Benmahdjoub, Marie Lise C. van Veelen, Wiro J. Niessen, Eppo B. Wolvius, Theo van Walsum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: In minimally invasive spring-assisted craniectomy, surgeons plan the surgery by manually locating the cranial sutures. However, this approach is prone to error. Augmented reality (AR) could be used to visualize the cranial sutures and assist in the surgery planning. The purpose of our work is to develop an AR-based system to visualize cranial sutures, and to assess the accuracy and usability of using AR-based navigation for surgical guidance in minimally invasive spring-assisted craniectomy. Methods: An AR system was developed that consists of an electromagnetic tracking system linked with a Microsoft HoloLens. The system was used to conduct a study with two skull phantoms. For each phantom, five sutures were annotated and visualized on the skull surface. Twelve participants assessed the system. For each participant, model alignment using six anatomical landmarks was performed, followed by the participant delineation of the visualized sutures. At the end, the participants filled a system usability scale (SUS) questionnaire. For evaluation, an independent optical tracking system was used and the delineated sutures were digitized and compared to the CT-annotated sutures. Results: For a total of 120 delineated sutures, the distance of the annotated sutures to the planning reference was 2.4 ± 1.2 mm. The average delineation time per suture was 13 ± 5 s. For the system usability questionnaire, an average SUS score of 73 was obtained. Conclusion: The developed AR-system has good accuracy (average 2.4 mm distance) and could be used in the OR. The system can assist in the pre-planning of minimally invasive craniosynostosis surgeries to locate cranial sutures accurately instead of the traditional approach of manual palpation. Although the conducted phantom study was designed to closely reflect the clinical setup in the OR, further clinical validation of the developed system is needed and will be addressed in a future work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1453-1460
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Augmented reality
  • Cranial sutures
  • Craniectomy
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Image guidance
  • Surgical navigation


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