Image Overlay Template Alignment (IOTA) increases the accuracy of complex surgery, such as spinal fixation following a car crash.
Gareth Robinson, senior radiographer at Leicester’s Hospitals and inventor of the technique, said: “Currently, our very skilled surgeons use x-ray images to help guide operations, together with their knowledge of the body and their eyesight. However, x-rays can be difficult to interpret because their exact magnification is unknown and there is little information on the x-ray to suggest depth. In other words, they’re rather two-dimensional.
“My technique uses laser lights and templates that can be laid over x-ray images to help surgeons make even more accurate surgical decisions.”
He went on to explain: “It works by giving surgeons more information about the precise angles at which pins and other prosthetics need to be placed in the body - a third eye, if you like - that reveals parts of the implants or shapes of the bones into which the implants are to be inserted that are normally hidden to x-rays and the human eye.”
Accurate measurements can be taken to confirm the lengths of screws and other implants that will be fitted. These can be cross-checked with the surgeon’s initial calculations, which can save time and money on wasted implants.
Without the technique, more and larger x-rays are needed to guide the surgical team with the procedure. This exposes the patient and staff to higher levels of radiation.
Andrew Furlong, divisional director for planned care at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “We are very proud that such an innovative technique has been invented by one of our members of staff. Not only does it improve surgery for patients and surgeons, it is cheaper than some of the 3D computerised systems that have just come onto the market and is far quicker to operate.”