Background: Intraoperative navigation is a tool that provides surgeons with real-time guidance based on patients' preoperative imaging studies. The application of intraoperative navigation to neurosurgery and otolaryngology has been well documented; however, only isolated reports have analyzed its potential in the field of craniomaxillofacial surgery. Methods: From November 2010 to July 2014, 15 patients were operated on for complex craniomaxillofacial surgery with assistance by 3 different navigation systems, which used either infrared or electromagnetic technologies. We imported fine-cut (0.625-mm) computed tomographic scan images of the patients to the navigation systems whose software processed them into multisurface 3-dimentional models used as guiding material for the surgical navigation. We also developed a simple "2-plane reference system" to ensure that the final results were symmetric to the normal half of the face. Appearance outcome was evaluated by questionnaire. Results: Of these 15 cases, 3 cases were performed with infrared-based navigation, and the remaining 12 cases were accomplished by electromagnetic technology. Most of these cases resulted in satisfactory outcomes after tumor resection, posttraumatic reconstruction, and postablative reconstruction. Conclusion: Navigation systems offer highly valuable intraoperative assistance in complex craniomaxillofacial surgery. Not only can these systems pinpoint deep-seated lesions as neurosurgeons or otolaryngologists do, but they can also use a simple 2-plane reference system for accurate bone alignment. Moreover, advancements in multisurface 3-D models provide us more reliable intuitive image guidance. The application of electromagnetic technology, with its smaller reference obviation of the line-of-sight problem, makes the manipulation of craniomaxillofacial surgery more comfortable.
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