Researchers have developed a simple, yet effective approach for on-demand tactile sensing in minimally invasive surgery, overcoming a key limitation — the inability of surgeons to feel tissues during an operation. The tool uses off-the-shelf sensors integrated into a laparoscopic grasper.
The Smart Laparoscopic Forceps (SLF measures in real time the grasping force and angle of the grasped tissue using a force sensor on the grasping jaw and an angle sensor at the handle. The data is analyzed using a microcontroller, and the grasping feedback is displayed on a monitor.
Based on the deformation parameters captured by the two sensors, this smart tool gives the surgeon a relative stiffness index of the tissue on top of the applied force magnitude to help with decision-making throughout the surgery. Using this approach, conventional surgical tools can be made smart with tactile feedback features, on demand, and in plug-and-play configuration. Future work will focus on developing even more precise ability to mechanically discern subtle differences in tissue stiffness and texture.
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