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We present a new interface for minimally invasive surgery (MIS) training that incorporates novel broadband sensory modalities that include visual, force, and thermal technology, into the evolution of the next generation of surgical robotics and simulators. A new haptic device is designed to provide high force and torque capabilities for a better touch feedback. Part of the surgical tool is kept to be the real grasper (i.e., the handle) of the haptic interface. Yet, our main novel contribution is in integrating thermal feedback in MIS applied perspectives; indeed, thermal sensing finds particular utility in detecting and isolating unstable arterial plaque and tumors. In addition, thermal energy is used in several therapeutic procedures such as tumor ablation or tissue welding. We propose several thermal exchange models based on the Pennes' bioheat transfer equation. The overall haptic interface (force and thermal display) is interfaced with an open source virtual reality simulator (the SOFA framework). We added in SOFA the necessary models dealing with thermal simulation using built-in data structure and methods. The integration is successful, and realistic simulation scenarios combining visual, thermal, and force feedback were achieved. Results using the overall simulation are presented and evaluated.
Date of Publication: June 2013