Electromagnetic tracking in surgical and interventional environments: usability study

Elodie Lugez, Hossein Sadjadi, David R. Pichora, Randy E. Ellis, Selim G. Akl, Gabor Fichtinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Purpose: Electromagnetic (EM) tracking of instruments within a clinical setting is notorious for fluctuating measurement performance. Position location measurement uncertainty of an EM system was characterized in various environments, including control, clinical, cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), and CT scanner environments. Static and dynamic effects of CBCT and CT scanning on EM tracking were evaluated.

Methods:    Two guidance devices were designed to solely translate or rotate the sensor in a non-interfering fit to decouple pose-dependent tracking uncertainties. These devices were mounted on a base to allow consistent and repeatable tests when changing environments. Using this method, position and orientation measurement accuracies, precision, and 95 % confidence intervals were assessed.

Results:    The tracking performance varied significantly as a function of the environment—especially within the CBCT and CT scanners—and sensor pose. In fact, at a fixed sensor position in the clinical environment, the measurement error varied from 0.2 to 2.2 mm depending on sensor orientations. Improved accuracies were observed along the vertical axis of the field generator. Calibration of the measurements improved tracking performance in the CT environment by 50–85 %.

Conclusion:    EM tracking can provide effective assistance to surgeons or interventional radiologists during procedures performed in a clinical or CBCT environment. Applications in the CT scanner demand precalibration to provide acceptable performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-262
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of computer assisted radiology and surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Accuracy analysis
  • Electromagnetic tracking
  • Image-guided therapy
  • Surgical navigation
  • Usability study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Health Informatics
  • Surgery
  • General Medicine


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