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The purpose of this study was to determine if augmented reality image overlay and laser guidance systems can assist medical trainees in learning the correct placement of a needle for percutaneous facet joint injection. The Perk Station training suite was used to conduct and record the needle insertion procedures. A total of 40 volunteers were randomized into two groups of 20. 1) The Overlay group received a training session that consisted of four insertions with image and laser guidance, followed by two insertions with laser overlay only. 2) The Control group received a training session of six classical freehand insertions. Both groups then conducted two freehand insertions. The movement of the needle was tracked during the series of insertions. The final insertion procedure was assessed to determine if there was a benefit to the overlay method compared to the freehand insertions. The Overlay group had a better success rate (83.3% versus 68.4%, p = 0.002), and potential for less tissue damage as measured by the amount of needle movement inside the phantom (3077.6 mm2 versus 5607.9 mm2, p = 0.01). These results suggest that an augmented reality overlay guidance system can assist medical trainees in acquiring technical competence in a percutaneous needle insertion procedure.
Date of Publication: July 2011