Laboratory Evaluation of a Robotic Operative Microscope - Visualization Platform for Neurosurgery

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Background We assessed a new robotic visualization platform with novel user-control features and compared its performance to the previous model of operative microscope. Methods In a neurosurgery research laboratory, we performed anatomical dissections and assessed robotic, exoscopic, endoscopic, fluorescence functionality. Usability and functionality were tested in the operating room over 1 year. Results The robotic microscope showed higher sensitivity for fluorescein sodium, higher detail in non-fluorescent background, and recorded/presented pictures with color quality similar to observation through the oculars. PpIX visualization was comparable to the previous microscope. Near-infrared indocyanine green imaging 3-step replay allowed for more convenient accurate assessment of blood flow. Point lock and pivot point functions were used in dissections to create 3D virtual reality microsurgical anatomy demonstrations. Pivot point control was particularly useful in deep surgical corridors with dynamic retraction. 3D exoscopic function was successfully used in brain tumor and spine cases. Endoscopic assistance was used for around-the-corner views in minimally invasive approaches. We present illustrative cases highlighting utility and new ways to control the operative microscope. Conclusion Improvements of the robotic visualization platform include intraoperative fluorescence visualization using FNa, integrated micro-inspection tool, improved ocular imaging clarity, and exoscopic mode. New robotic movements positively assist the surgeon and provide improved ergonomics and a greater level of intraoperative comfort, with the potential to increase the viewing quality. New operational modes also allow significant impact for anatomy instruction. With the increasing number and complexity of functions, surgeons should receive additional training in order to avail themselves of the advantages of the numerous novel features.

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