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This paper presents a method designed to register preoperative computed tomography (CT) images to vertebral surface points acquired intraoperatively from ultrasound (US) images or via a tracked probe. It also presents a comparison of the registration accuracy achievable with surface points acquired from the entire posterior surface of the vertebra to the accuracy achievable with points acquired only from the spinous process and central laminar regions. Using a marker-based method as a reference, this work shows that submillimetric registration accuracy can be obtained even when a small portion of the posterior vertebral surface is used for registration. It also shows that when selected surface patches are used, CT slice thickness is not a critical parameter in the registration process. Furthermore, the paper includes qualitative results of registering vertebral surface points in US images to multiple CT slices. The method has been tested with US points and physical points on a plastic spine phantom and with simulated data on a patient CT scan.