Disruptive technology in spine surgery and education: Virtual and augmented reality

Jakub Godzik, S. Harrison Farber, Timur Urakov, Jeremy Steinberger, Liza J. Knipscher, Ryan B. Ehredt, Luis M. Tumialan, Juan S. Uribe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Technological advancements are the drivers of modern-day spine care. With the growing pressure to deliver faster and better care, surgical-assist technology is needed to harness computing power and enable the surgeon to improve outcomes. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) represent the pinnacle of emerging technology, not only to deliver higher quality education through simulated care, but also to provide valuable intraoperative information to assist in more efficient and more precise surgeries. OBJECTIVE: To describe how the disruptive technologies of VR and AR interface in spine surgery and education. METHODS: We review the relevance of VR and AR technologies in spine care, and describe the feasibility and limitations of the technologies. RESULTS: We discuss potential future applications, and provide a case study demonstrating the feasibility of a VR program for neurosurgical spine education. CONCLUSION: Initial experiences with VR and AR technologies demonstrate their applicability and ease of implementation. However, further prospective studies through multi-institutional and industry-academic partnerships are necessary to solidify the future of VR and AR in spine surgery education and clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S85-S93
JournalOperative Neurosurgery
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Augmented reality
  • Education
  • Minimally invasive spine surgery
  • Navigation
  • Virtual reality


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