Understanding Intraoperative Navigation for Spine Surgery: A Patient's Guide



Spine surgery can be a daunting prospect, but advancements in medical technology have significantly improved the precision and safety of these procedures. One such advancement is intraoperative navigation, a state-of-the-art technique that enhances the surgeon's ability to perform complex spine surgeries with greater accuracy. This guide aims to help you understand what intraoperative navigation is, how it works, and its benefits for spine surgery patients.

What is Intraoperative Navigation?

Intraoperative navigation is a technology used during spine surgery to provide real-time, three-dimensional (3D) images of the patient's spine. This advanced imaging technique assists surgeons in accurately identifying and targeting the specific areas of the spine that require surgical intervention.

How Does Intraoperative Navigation Work?

The process of intraoperative navigation involves several key steps:

  1. Preoperative Imaging: Before the surgery, detailed imaging studies such as CT scans or MRIs are performed to create a 3D model of the patient's spine.

  2. Registration: During surgery, the patient's anatomy is matched with the preoperative images using a process called registration. This step ensures that the navigation system's images accurately correspond to the patient's actual spine.

  3. Real-Time Tracking: Specialized instruments equipped with sensors are used by the surgeon during the procedure. These sensors interact with the navigation system, allowing the surgeon to see the precise location of the instruments in relation to the patient's spine in real-time.

  4. Visualization: The navigation system displays these images on a monitor, providing the surgeon with a clear, 3D view of the spine. This enhanced visualization helps the surgeon make precise movements and placements during the surgery.

Benefits of Intraoperative Navigation

Intraoperative navigation offers several significant advantages for both patients and surgeons:

  1. Increased Accuracy: The real-time, 3D imaging helps surgeons pinpoint the exact locations for incisions, screw placements, and other surgical actions, reducing the risk of errors.

  2. Enhanced Safety: By providing a detailed view of the spine and surrounding structures, intraoperative navigation minimizes the chances of damaging critical tissues and nerves.

  3. Reduced Surgery Time: The precision of this technology can streamline the surgical process, potentially shortening the duration of the surgery.

  4. Better Outcomes: Improved accuracy and safety often lead to better overall outcomes, including faster recovery times and reduced postoperative complications.

Common Procedures Using Intraoperative Navigation

Intraoperative navigation is particularly beneficial for complex spine surgeries, such as:

What to Expect as a Patient

If your surgeon has recommended the use of intraoperative navigation for your spine surgery, here are a few things you can expect:


Intraoperative navigation represents a significant advancement in spine surgery, offering increased accuracy, enhanced safety, and better overall outcomes for patients. If you have any questions or concerns about this technology or your upcoming surgery, don't hesitate to discuss them with your healthcare provider. Understanding the tools and techniques used in your treatment can help you feel more confident and prepared for your surgical journey.

Remi M. Ajiboye M.D. is a top-rated board-certified spine specialist in Los Angeles who is trained in non-surgical and surgical management of spine conditions. He has advanced training in minimally-invasive spine surgery and complex spinal reconstruction. Dr Remi Ajiboye serves Torrance, El Segundo, Long Beach, and the surrounding communities of South Bay, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, Lomita, San Pedro, Carson, Lawndale, Gardena, Hawthorne, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Culver City, Inglewood, Ladera Heights, South Gate, Lynwood, Compton, Los Alamitos, Westminster, Garden Grove, Lakewood, Cerritos, Bellflower, Downey, Paramount, Bellflower, Norwalk, Whittier, Santa Fe Springs, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange, Tustin, Fullerton, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and greater Los Angeles county and Orange County. Contact Remi Ajiboye, MD, online or over the phone to set up an appointment.

Remi Ajiboye MD Remi Ajiboye MD Remi M. Ajiboye M.D. is a spine specialist who is trained in non-surgical and surgical management of spine conditions. He has advanced training in minimally-invasive spine surgery and complex spinal reconstruction.

You Might Also Enjoy...


Understanding Different Types of Spine Surgery

Understanding the different types of spine surgery can help you feel more confident and prepared if you or a loved one needs to undergo a procedure. Here’s a guide to understanding some of the primary spine surgery options.