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Minimally invasive surgery generates new user interfaces which create visual and haptic distortion when compared to traditional surgery. In order to regain the tactile and kinesthetic information that is lost, a computerized force feedback endoscopic surgical grasper (FREG) was developed with computer control and a haptic user interface. The system uses standard unmodified grasper shafts and tips. The FREG can control grasping forces either by surgeon teleoperation control, or under software control. The FREG performance was evaluated using an automated palpation function (programmed series of compressions) in which the grasper measures mechanical properties of the grasped materials. The material parameters obtained from measurements showed the ability of the FREG to discriminate between different types of normal soft tissues (small bowel, lung, spleen, liver, colon, and stomach) and different kinds of artificial soft tissue replication materials (latex/silicone) for simulation purposes. In addition, subjective tests of ranking stiffness of silicone materials using the FREG teleoperation mode showed significant improvement in the performance compared to the standard endoscopic grasper. Moreover, the FREG performance was closer to the performance of the human hand than the standard endoscopic grasper. The FREG as a tool incorporating the force feedback teleoperation technology may provide the basis for application in telesurgery, clinical endoscopic surgery, surgical training, and research.
Date of Publication: Oct. 1999