In the conventional management of bone tumor surgery, surgeons have to integrate two-dimensional (2D) preoperative images to simulate a three-dimensional (3D) surgical plan. Surgeons often have difficulties in accurately executing the virtual surgical plan. Inaccurate tumor resection may lead to local tumor recurrence and death. Surgeons often have to remove normal bone tissues and surrounding structures of the patients and this will impair their limb functions.
Since 2006, orthopaedic surgeons at CUHK have developed and refined the techniques of CATS which is particularly useful in complicated tumor surgery, such as pelvic / sacral tumors removal and paediatric bone cancers. CATS has been successfully applied to 32 bone cancer patients. The integration of all preoperative information by image fusion not only allows detailed analysis of patients’ anatomy and tumor position but it also enables precise virtual surgical simulation and resection planning. The surgical plan can be executed with the help of a computer navigation system to achieve a high level of precision and accuracy, ensuring clear resection margins and reducing the error in bone resection to less than two millimeters. This technology helps increase the chance of total tumor resection and preserve normal bone tissues and joints.
CATS is widely recognized and accepted worldwide in the treatment of bone cancer and eight related articles have been published in international journals, including the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. CUHK orthopaedic surgeons also won two poster awards at the International Society of Limb Salvage Surgery meeting in 2007 and 2011 respectively and the best clinical paper award at International Computer-Assisted Orthopaedic Surgery meeting in 2008. As the only orthopaedic tumor centre in the world that provides systematic and structural training courses for CATS, CUHK has organized three international CATS workshops that were attended by 70 tumor surgeons from different parts of the world.
CUHK has recently received research funding from Hong Kong Government Research Grants Council to further develop this advanced technique and explore other possibility such as using patient-specific tumor cutting templates in the management of bone tumor surgery.