Augmented reality head-mounted display-based incision planning in cranial neurosurgery: a prospective pilot study

Michael E. Ivan, Daniel G. Eichberg, Long Di, Ashish H. Shah, Evan M. Luther, Victor M. Lu, Ricardo J. Komotar, Timur M. Urakov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE Monitor and wand-based neuronavigation stations (MWBNSs) for frameless intraoperative neuronavigation are routinely used in cranial neurosurgery. However, they are temporally and spatially cumbersome; the OR must be arranged around the MWBNS, at least one hand must be used to manipulate the MWBNS wand (interrupting a bimanual surgical technique), and the surgical workflow is interrupted as the surgeon stops to “check the navigation” on a remote monitor. Thus, there is need for continuous, real-time, hands-free, neuronavigation solutions. Augmented reality (AR) is poised to streamline these issues. The authors present the first reported prospective pilot study investigating the feasibility of using the OpenSight application with an AR head-mounted display to map out the borders of tumors in patients undergoing elective craniotomy for tumor resection, and to compare the degree of correspondence with MWBNS tracing. METHODS Eleven consecutive patients undergoing elective craniotomy for brain tumor resection were prospectively identified and underwent circumferential tumor border tracing at the time of incision planning by a surgeon wearing HoloLens AR glasses running the commercially available OpenSight application registered to the patient and preoperative MRI. Then, the same patient underwent circumferential tumor border tracing using the StealthStation S8 MWBNS. Postoperatively, both tumor border tracings were compared by two blinded board-certified neurosurgeons and rated as having an excellent, adequate, or poor correspondence degree based on a subjective sense of the overlap. Objective overlap area measurements were also determined. RESULTS Eleven patients undergoing craniotomy were included in the study. Five patient procedures were rated as having an excellent correspondence degree, 5 had an adequate correspondence degree, and 1 had poor correspondence. Both raters agreed on the rating in all cases. AR tracing was possible in all cases. CONCLUSIONS In this small pilot study, the authors found that AR was implementable in the workflow of a neurosurgery OR, and was a feasible method of preoperative tumor border identification for incision planning. Future studies are needed to identify strategies to improve and optimize AR accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • augmented reality
  • brain tumor
  • residency training
  • surgical planning
  • technology assessment and innovation
  • training tools and simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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