The first computer-assisted orthopaedic trauma procedures were limited to navigated drill-guide applications, in which the computer was used to predict the trajectory of the drill guide relative to stored radiographic images. By 2003, software for fracture reduction was commercially available. The ability to perform a minimally invasive fracture reduction with the aid of stored images, combined with navigated insertion of internal fixation, has long been considered the highest achievement in image-guided fracture surgery. It is now possible to apply computer-assisted techniques to all fractures that have traditionally been treated with the aid of intraoperative fluoroscopic control. Less-invasive fixation of long-bone fractures is often complicated by malrotation or shortening of the injured extremity, sometimes requiring reoperation. Recent developments in computer-assisted surgery now allow the orthopaedic surgeon to precisely match the anatomy of the injured extremity to that of the uninjured limb with respect to length and rotational alignment. This is particularly important in comminuted fractures, for which there are no anatomic clues to guide accurate reduction, and in the correction of malreduced fractures. Although computer-assisted technology is now readily available, it has not yet found widespread acceptance in the orthopaedic trauma community. New software workflows (i.e., the step-by-step progression through various screens in the software program during a computer-guided procedure) specific to individual procedures and implants may hasten adoption of these techniques.
1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Box 800159, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0159. E-mail address: Dmk7y@virginia.edu