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, 15 (5), 296-304

Artificial Tactile Sensing in Minimally Invasive Surgery - A New Technical Approach

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Artificial Tactile Sensing in Minimally Invasive Surgery - A New Technical Approach

Sebastian Schostek et al. Minim Invasive Ther Allied Technol.

Abstract

The loss of tactile sensation is a commonly known drawback of minimally invasive surgery (MIS). Since the advent of MIS, research activities in providing tactile information to the surgeon are still ongoing, in order to improve patient safety and to extend the indications for MIS. We have designed a tactile sensor system comprising a tactile laparoscopic grasper for surgical palpation. For this purpose, we developed a novel tactile sensor technology which allows the manufacturing of an integrated sensor array within an acceptable price range. The array was integrated into the jaws of a 10mm laparoscopic grasper. The tactile data are transferred wirelessly via Bluetooth and are presented visually to the surgeon. The goal was to be able to obtain information about the shape and consistency of tissue structures by gently compressing the tissue between the jaws of the tactile instrument and thus to be able to recognize and assess anatomical or pathological structures, even if they are hidden in the tissue. With a prototype of the tactile sensor system we have conducted bench-tests as well as in-vitro and in-vivo experiments. The system proved feasibility in an experimental environment, it was easy to use, and the novel tactile sensor array was applicable for both palpation and grasping manoeuvres with forces of up to 60N. The tactile data turned out to be a useful supplement to the minimal amount of haptic feedback that is provided by current endoscopic instruments and the endoscopic image under certain conditions.

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