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An instrument comprising a contact force sensor device

minimally invasive instrumentremote robotRobotic surgery

Introduction

A contact force sensor device comprising a gas-inflatable balloon, a processing unit receiving a detection signal from pressure changes or deformation in the balloon and a notification device that conveys the contact force signal computed by the processing unit to the operator. The sensor device can be used within robot-operated endoscopic instruments.

Technical features

Surgical robots are not currently equipped with force sensors since these are not yet adapted as laparoscopic surgical instruments due to the small size of the entry holes in the human body, they are costly and may not be biocompatible and / or sterilizable. In addition, algorithms using visual estimation of the contact force do not always have a reference image of the patient’s organs / tissues that are not deformed. The present technology overcomes these limits as the elastic membrane of the inflatable balloon, the only portion in contact with the human body, can be made with known biocompatible materials such as latex, is disposable and separable from the electronic part of the system (the pneumatic sensor can be positioned remotely from the contact point). Once deflated following measurement, the membrane can be withdrawn inside the work tool. The system can be miniaturized for compatibility with minimally invasive surgical instruments such as forceps, scalpels and others pertaining to the Da Vinci robotic system.

Possible Applications

  • For diagnostic, therapeutic or surgical purposes;
  • Applicable to robotic surgical or diagnostic instruments;
  • For blood vessel consistency evaluation;
  • For anomalous tissue region evaluation;
  • Applicable to robotic hands.

Advantages

  • Informs the operator about tissue compliance;
  • Disposable or reusable biocompatible membrane;
  • Low price;
  • Endoscopic part independently sterilizable from the electronics;
  • Miniaturizable.