Spinal Navigation for Spinal Surgery

If you’ve been told you need spine surgery, you may be wondering how the surgeon will get to the surgery site. With traditional open surgery, a large incision is made in the patient’s back, and the surgeon manually dissects through muscle and tissue to get to the spine.

With newer spinal navigation technology, a small incision is made, and a miniature camera is inserted into the body. This camera sends images to a computer, which helps the surgeon navigate to the surgery site. This is called spinal navigation.

What Is Spinal Navigation?

Spinal navigation, also known as computer-assisted spine surgery, is a surgical technique that uses computer images to help guide the surgeon during spinal surgery. The goal of spinal navigation is to improve accuracy and safety while reducing surgical time. 

Imaging technology like CT scans and MRIs are used to create a 3-D model of the patient’s spine. Using the three-dimensional image, which is displayed on a computer screen in the operating room, the surgeon can more accurately navigate the surgical area. 

Spinal navigation has been shown to be safe and effective and has become the standard of care for many spinal surgeries. This technology allows the surgeon to plan each step of the surgery ahead of time, which can lead to a quicker operation while improving the accuracy of the surgery and protecting the surrounding nerves and tissues. 

Who Can Benefit From Spinal Navigation?

While spinal navigation is often used for complex spinal surgeries, it can also be beneficial for simpler procedures.

Some patients who may benefit from spinal navigation include those who:

  • Have had previous spinal surgery that resulted in instability or fusion failure
  • Have a deformity such as scoliosis
  • Have a tumor or infection in their spine
  • Require a high degree of accuracy during surgery

What Are the Risks of Spinal Navigation?

One of the risks of spinal navigation is the potential for inaccurate measurements and alignment. If the surgeon is not able to properly place the implant due to an inaccurate reading, it could lead to serious health complications. Since spinal navigation requires surgery, there is a risk of infection if the surgical site is not properly cleaned and sterilized.


Spinal navigation is a minimally-invasive surgical technique that can help treat a wide variety of spine-related conditions. It’s designed to help surgeons achieve greater accuracy when performing spine surgeries. If you’re considering spinal surgery, be sure to ask your surgeon about the use of spinal navigation.

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