Neurospine.  2018 Dec;15(4):306-322. 10.14245/ns.1836206.103.

Review of Photoacoustic Imaging for Imaging-Guided Spinal Surgery

  • 1Division of Biophotonics, Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada.
  • 2Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


This review introduces the current technique of photoacoustic imaging as it is applied in imaging-guided surgery (IGS), which provides the surgeon with image visualization and analysis capabilities during surgery. Numerous imaging techniques have been developed to help surgeons perform complex operations more safely and quickly. Although surgeons typically use these kinds of images to visualize targets hidden by bone and other tissues, it is nonetheless more difficult to perform surgery with static reference images (e.g., computed tomography scans and magnetic resonance images) of internal structures. Photoacoustic imaging could enable real-time visualization of regions of interest during surgery. Several researchers have shown that photoacoustic imaging has potential for the noninvasive diagnosis of various types of tissues, including bone. Previous studies of the surgical application of photoacoustic imaging have focused on cancer surgery, but photoacoustic imaging has also recently attracted interest for spinal surgery, because it could be useful for avoiding pedicle breaches and for choosing an appropriate starting point before drilling or pedicle probe insertion. This review describes the current instruments and clinical applications of photoacoustic imaging. Its primary objective is to provide a comprehensive overview of photoacoustic IGS in spinal surgery.


Photoacoustic imaging; Imaging-guided surgery; Minimally surgery; Spinal surgery; Robot surgery

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