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Our Motivation

Spinal deformities (SD) refers to any abnormality of spinal alignment that can cause pain, instability, functional impairment, cosmetic concerns, neurological problems and/or physiological dysfunction . Since conservative treatment usually is not effective, patients are submitted to surgical SD correction providing pain and disability relief. However, minimally invasive (MIS) SD correction surgeries are associated with high rates of complications, revision and secondary surgeries. The limited field of work/view during MIS raised two main problems: difficulty in understanding the anatomy of the spine and increased radiation exposure.

Proposed solution

The goal of this project is to project/design, develop, test and validate a system to aid the surgeon getting the best outcome in spine surgeries. The system includes the development of metrics to objectively and in real-time assess the spine balance during surgeries using information from the preoperative plan.

The framework of the system is shown in the video below: after performing the preoperative plan in existing software, a CT scan of the patient’s spine is done intra or preoperatively and a 3D reconstruction of his spine is automatically performed. After the registration of the column, the goal is to monitor the changes of the spine during the surgery and thus update the 3D model of the column, presenting the parameters related to the balance of the column of the patient in real time.

The main innovation of this project is related to reconstructing the three-dimensional model of the spine and track the changes in the spine shape in order to provide the surgeon real-time information about the spine’s balance, reducing radiation exposure to the patient. The solution combines a computer-assisted navigation system incorporating a real-time tracking device that can greatly facilitate the spinal deformity correction surgery, and thus provide a clear demonstration of added value to clinicians. Further, the system will guide the surgeon in a user-friendly and intuitive manner similar to existing procedures.

Our Team

Currently, SpineAlign team involves a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering:

Luís Serrador (PhD Student)

Our Partners

We have the paricipation of the Clinicians of the Orthopaedics Department of Hospital of Braga for surgeons inclusion as well as the support of the Clinical Academic Center of Braga (2CA-Braga, a partnership between U.Minho and Hospital of Braga), which allows us to test our solution on phantom objects and cadaveric specimens.