Instrument Navigation

Instrument Navigation links predominantly data from computer tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance tomography (MRI) with the area of intervention during surgery. The navigation system enables the surgeon to actual see the tip of their instruments within the patient CT- or MRI-data, and thus control instrument movements to the best. Minimal-invasive surgery reduces the complexity of treatment and allows for faster patient recovery.

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BMBF public funded research project VINA

Our BMBF funded project VINA (Visual Navigation) is a novel image based method for surgical navigation in which a proprietary miniature camera system is integrated in standard surgical instruments. The video stream generated by the camera is used to generate a 3D road map of the operating field, while cutting edge algorithms from robotics and computer vision simultaneously localize the position of the instrument on the 3D map. The 3D map is then superimposed on the patient's CT dataset to enable computation of the precise position and orientation of the instrument within the CT volume. Minimal hardware requirements make the technology ideal for universal and flexible use with any kind of surgical instrument or device.

VINA has the key advantage that it is much easier to handle than conventional navigation systems. Automatic registration with pre-operative patient data minimizes the preparation time needed for surgical interventions, while the system also avoids both line-of-sight issues associated with optical navigation systems and the electromagnetic interference to which electromagnetic navigation is susceptible. Thus, VINA could open the way to a much more comprehensive use of clinical navigation in surgical procedures which would raise the level of patient safety in the operating theater. Furthermore, a larger number of low impact minimally invasive procedures would lead to shorter post-op recovery times and shorter hospital stays, which would lower costs in the healthcare system.


• Miniaturized camera module

• 3D feature tracking

• Simultaneous localization and mapping

Supported by BMBF grant 13GW0039C, VINA has been conducted from 2014 to 2017 at Charité together with Fraunhofer and SCOPIS GmbH.

Contact: Erwin Keeve