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Force feedback has been suggested to provide a number of benefits to surgery. Few studies, however, have addressed the benefit of force feedback in the context of the complexities of true surgical tasks. When information is limited (such as depth information in endoscopically guided tasks), force feedback may provide additional information that improves performance. We investigate a two-handed, six degree of freedom, endoscopically guided, minimally invasive cannulation task (inserting one tube into another tube) to test this hypothesis. We used twelve subjects, six of whom were experienced minimally invasive surgeons. Results suggest that force feedback reduces applied forces for both subject groups, but only the surgically trained group can take advantage of this benefit without a significant increase in trial time. We hypothesize that this training difference is due to the interaction between visual-spatial motor abilities and the information contained in the mechanical interaction forces.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2007