Steady hands and uninterrupted, sharp vision are critical when performing surgery on delicate structures like the brain or hair-thin blood vessels.
Steady hands and uninterrupted, sharp vision are critical when performing surgery on delicate structures like the brain or hair-thin blood vessels. While surgical cameras have improved what surgeons see during operative procedures, the “steady hand” remains to be enhanced — new surgical technologies, including sophisticated surgeon-guided robotic hands, cannot prevent accidental injuries when operating close to fragile tissue.
In a new study published in the January issue of the journal Scientific Reports, researchers at Texas A&M University show that by delivering small, yet perceptible buzzes of electrical currents to fingertips, users can be given an accurate perception of distance to contact. This insight enabled users to control their robotic fingers precisely enough to gently land on fragile surfaces.
The researchers said that this technique might be an effective way to help surgeons reduce inadvertent injuries during robot-assisted operative procedures.
“One of the challenges with robotic fingers is ensuring that they can be controlled precisely enough to softly land on biological tissue,” said Hangue Park, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “With our design, surgeons will be able to get an intuitive sense of how far their robotic fingers are from contact, information they can then use to touch fragile structures with just the right amount of force.”
Read more at Texas A&M University
Image: Stimulation electrodes on glove deliver distance information so that user can touch a test object with just the right amount of force. (Credit: Texas A&M University College of Engineering)