This paper presents a novel force-sensing silicone retractor that can be attached to a surgical suction pipe to improve the usability of the suction and retraction functions during neurosurgery. The retractor enables simultaneous utilization of three functions: suction, retraction, and retraction-force sensing. The retractor also reduces the number of tool changes and ensures safe retraction through visualization of the magnitude of the retraction force. The proposed force-sensing system is based on a force visualization mechanism through which the force is displayed in the form of motion of a colored pole. This enables surgeons to estimate the retraction force. When a fiberscope or camera is present, the retractor enables measurement of the retraction force with a resolution of 0.05 N. The retractor has advantages of being disposable, inexpensive, and easy to sterilize or disinfect. Finite element analysis and experiments demonstrate the validity of the proposed force-sensing system.
Keywords: force sensor; force visualization mechanism; retraction; suction.