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Friday, 21 October 2011

Vibrotactile feedback enhances robotic urologic surgery, according to study
Oct 1, 2011

Adding vibrotactile feedback to robotic minimally invasive surgery can increase awareness of tool actions and surgeons' perceived ability to concentrate, according to a user study presented at the AUA annual meeting in Washington.

Currently, surgeons employing robotic surgery operate without any type of tactile feedback. The VerroTouch system measures the vibrations caused by tool contact and recreates them at the master console for the surgeon to hear and feel. The additional audio and haptic feedback can be readily attached to existing da Vinci S systems (Intuitive Surgical, Sunnyvale, CA) without requiring permanent modification, and can be adapted for other telerobotic systems.

"The vibrations provided by this system are similar to what surgeons can hear and feel if they were directly manipulating the instruments," said first author William McMahan, a PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, working with Katherine J. Kuchenbecker, PhD, David I. Lee, MD, and colleagues.

A barrier to haptic feedback in medical robotics is the need for sensor sterilization. The VerroTouch system overcomes this hurdle through the use of 3-dimensional accelerometers mounted below the interchangeable tool-mounting points that lie within the robot's sterile drapes.

McMahan described the features and components of the VerroTouch. A central receiver conditions the vibration signals to drive the audio and haptic outputs. An independent gain control allows for customization of the strength of the audio and haptic feedback to the surgeon's preference.

Voice coil actuators mounted near the surgeon's hands generate haptic feedback of the tool vibrations. Stereo computer speakers mounted to the sides of the master console provide the audio feedback.

"We give them the audio because the audio and haptics often reinforce each other," McMahan said.
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