Small, Wireless Capsule Restores Surgeons’ Sense Of Touch During Minimally-Invasive Surgeries
A small, wireless capsule has been developed that can restore the sense of touch that surgeons are losing as they shift increasingly from open to minimally-invasive surgery.
During open surgery, doctors rely on their sense of touch to identify the edges of hidden tumors and to locate hidden blood vessels and other anatomical structures: a procedure they call palpation. But this practice is not possible in minimally-invasive surgery where surgeons work with small, specialized tools and miniature cameras that fit through small incisions in a patient’s skin.
In order to provide the benefits of palpation to minimally-invasive surgery, a team of engineers and doctors at Vanderbilt University headed by Pietro Valdastri, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and medicine, has designed a special-purpose wireless capsule equipped with a pressure sensor that fits through the small ports that surgeons use for what is also called “keyhole” surgery.