New York Spine Surgeon describes the O-Arm CAT Scanner

Posted on: December 19, 2013

Meet the O-Arm:  New technology in the OR

By John Abrahams, MD, FAANS, Chief of Neurosurgery, Co-Director of Spine Surgery, Orthopedic and Spine Institute

Dr. John Abrahams Northern Westchester HospitalThe Orthopedic & Spine Institute of Northern Westchester Hospital recently brought new technology into the operating room – the O-Arm from Medtronic.

The O-Arm is an intra-operative CAT Scanner with Image Guidance used to make placement of spinal instrumentation more accurate and safer. 

Typically, the O-Arm would be mainly used for patients undergoing spine surgery that need instrumentation placed such as rods and screws.  During these procedures, patients are put to sleep with general anesthesia and prepped for surgery.  An incision is made over the surgical site and then the O-Arm is brought in to obtain a CAT Scan with three-dimensional imaging. The entire acquisition process takes a few minutes and then CAT Scan information is sent to a computer work station.  After data acquisition, the O-Arm is moved away from the patient allowing surgery to continue. When it is time to insert the pedicle screws, surgeons utilize the image guidance software that allows visualization of the actual CAT Scan images showing the safest and most accurate placement trajectory for the pedicle screws.  All of the instruments are registered with the software and these tools can be seen on the computer-generated image showing “real-time” placement.  This added feature reduces the risk of the screw “pinching” or touching a traversing nerve.  We are using this technology for almost all lumbar and thoracic fusion procedures.  We have also seen a reduction in the number of erroneous placements of the screws that would necessitate an unplanned trip back to the operating room to redirect the screw or hardware.  This technology shows the level of commitment at Northern Westchester Hospital for being at the leading edge of technology in the area of spine and orthopedic surgery.

Editor’s Note:  Dr. John Abrahams is a member of Brain and Spine Surgeons of New York, Co-Director of Spine Surgery at The Orthopedic and Spine Institute, and Chief of Neurosurgery at Northern Westchester Hospital.

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