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Evolution of the meta-neurosurgeon: A systematic review of the current technical capabilities, limitations, and applications of augmented reality in neurosurgery.

BACKGROUND: Augmented reality (AR) applications in neurosurgery have expanded over the past decade with the introduction of headset-based platforms. Many studies have focused on either preoperative planning to tailor the approach to the patient's anatomy and pathology or intraoperative surgical navigation, primarily realized as AR navigation through microscope oculars. Additional efforts have been made to validate AR in trainee and patient education and to investigate novel surgical approaches. Our objective was to provide a systematic overview of AR in neurosurgery, provide current limitations of this technology, as well as highlight several applications of AR in neurosurgery.

METHODS: We performed a literature search in PubMed/Medline to identify papers that addressed the use of AR in neurosurgery. The authors screened three hundred and seventy-five papers, and 57 papers were selected, analyzed, and included in this systematic review.

RESULTS: AR has made significant inroads in neurosurgery, particularly in neuronavigation. In spinal neurosurgery, this primarily has been used for pedicle screw placement. AR-based neuronavigation also has significant applications in cranial neurosurgery, including neurovascular, neurosurgical oncology, and skull base neurosurgery. Other potential applications include operating room streamlining, trainee and patient education, and telecommunications.

CONCLUSION: AR has already made a significant impact in neurosurgery in the above domains and has the potential to be a paradigm-altering technology. Future development in AR should focus on both validating these applications and extending the role of AR.

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