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Using tactile feedback in medicine to enhance laparoscopy and telesurgery

Tactile technology, what is it?

Walking in the park with your girlfriend and you squeeze her hand, and she squeezes back that is tactile feedback.

At Laval Virtual 2004 many users expressed surprise and enthusiasm over the added tactile information provided by the MUVII Interactive Theatre and Kiosk Devices. This new communication channel opens up five basic areas for exploitation.

2) Helping surgeons to "feel" as they operate using robotic equipment:

In open surgery, the surgeons are able to feel the pulsing of a nearby artery as his scalpel approaches it, with tactile feedback we can recreate such a lost sense. Tactile feedback can be used in a simulated surgery training environment (see LOI from SimSurgery), and by adding small pressure/force sensors to the laparoscopy operating equipment we can give the surgeon tactile feedback. In a logical extension tele-surgery would be the next step.

We have constructed and patented a small device that converts electrical signals to small movements that can be felt. This device is referred to as a tactile motor; it has a small active surface about the size of a fingertip.

One or more tactile motors are mounted in the laparoscopic control handles where fingertips normally are placed. In this way the fingers simultaneously "feel" the sensor information as the surgical instrument is moved. Information from the sensors or the simulation model is converted to tactile movements so the surgeon can feel contours, textures and even the pulsing of an artery.

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