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Living Healthy

O-arm helps surgeons see

BOSTON (WHDH) -- 3D images have never been available in the operating room before.

But now, this large donut shaped piece of equipment called an "o-arm" is changing that, by fusing old and new technology.

"It allows you to take essentially an interoperative CT scan and then navigate with it," Dr. Brian Kelley said.

Neurosurgeon brain Kelley says there is a tiny margin for error in intricate spinal and brain surgeries.

The o-arm acts like a GPS, tracking surgical instruments in relation to your anatomy; giving the surgeon a better way to "see" during surgery.

"All of the instruments and the patient themselves are registered with the imaging that is taken in a three dimensional fashion," Kelley said.

Once the patient is on the operating table, the o-arm is expanded to resemble an o-shape, then the x-ray technician can begin taking images.

The surgeon then uses those images to know exactly where instruments can be placed without damaging nearby tissue.

"It's safer for the patients, when the technology is applied right it's faster and it lowers the complication rate," Kelley said

The o-arm gets images before and after surgery, confirming that pins and screws are placed exactly where they need to be.

"To be able to see it and move the image three dimensionally and to be able to see the trajectory you're pointing before you get there, it allows planning and that's something we didn't have before when we were using two dimensional images," Kelley said.

It takes a maximum of just 22 seconds to get the high def, 3D images of your body.

A small amount of time that can be a big help.