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, 2014, 6517-20

Endoscopic Add-On Stiffness Probe for Real-Time Soft Surface Characterisation in MIS

Endoscopic Add-On Stiffness Probe for Real-Time Soft Surface Characterisation in MIS

A Faragasso et al. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc.


This paper explores a novel stiffness sensor which is mounted on the tip of a laparoscopic camera. The proposed device is able to compute stiffness when interacting with soft surfaces. The sensor can be used in Minimally Invasive Surgery, for instance, to localise tumor tissue which commonly has a higher stiffness when compared to healthy tissue. The purely mechanical sensor structure utilizes the functionality of an endoscopic camera to the maximum by visually analyzing the behavior of trackers within the field of view. Two pairs of spheres (used as easily identifiable features in the camera images) are connected to two springs with known but different spring constants. Four individual indenters attached to the spheres are used to palpate the surface. During palpation, the spheres move linearly towards the objective lens (i.e. the distance between lens and spheres is changing) resulting in variations of their diameters in the camera images. Relating the measured diameters to the different spring constants, a developed mathematical model is able to determine the surface stiffness in real-time. Tests were performed using a surgical endoscope to palpate silicon phantoms presenting different stiffness. Results show that the accuracy of the sensing system developed increases with the softness of the examined tissue.

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