Minimally invasive surgery is becoming more popular. A surgeon uses video game like controls to manipulate robotic arms with long tools on them. These surgical robotic systems do not provide haptic feedback. This can result in accidents that cause bleeding or broken sutures.
Robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery (RMIS) holds great promise for improving the accuracy and dexterity of a surgeon while minimizing trauma to the patient. Even greater widespread clinical success would be possible if there was not the lack of haptic (force and tactile) feedback for the surgeon.
Haptics generally describes touch feedback, which may include kinesthetic (force) and cutaneous (tactile) feedback. In manual minimally invasive surgery (MIS), surgeons feel the interaction of the instrument with the patient via a long shaft, which eliminates tactile cues and masks force cues. Some studies have linked the lack of significant haptic feedback in MIS to increased intra-operative injury. In teleoperated robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery (RMIS), all natural haptic feedback is eliminated because the surgeon no longer manipulates the instrument directly.
New sensors will provide milliNewton sensitivity with measurements 100 times per second.
The goal of haptic technology in robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery is to provide “transparency”, in which the surgeon does not feel as if he is operating a remote mechanism, but rather that his own hands are contacting the patient. This requires artificial haptic sensors on the patient-side robot to acquire haptic information, and haptic displays to convey the information to the surgeon (Figure 1). We categorize haptics as kinesthetic (related to forces and positions of the muscles and joints ) and/or cutaneous (tactile; related to the skin) in nature. Haptics includes force, distributed pressure, temperature, vibrations, and texture, which are in some cases difficult to model and quantify, let alone acquire and display. To provide myriad haptic information to the surgeon without sacrificing the maneuverability and dexterity afforded by the RMIS system is a major technical challenge. Simultaneously, the robot components, particularly disposable instruments, must remain low cost and robust.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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