Endoscopic-assisted surgery has advanced significantly in the last couple decades, with new generation cameras, novel materials, and advanced mechanics allowing physicians to perform all sorts of minimally invasive procedures. While the physician now gets a great view of the scene in front of the instruments, there’s still no feeling of touch that is transmitted to help avoid unnecessary damage.
Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have been testing a new active sensing material that’s wrapped around an endoscope to allow surgeons to receive feedback on how much pressure the device is applying along its entire surface. For a newly published study evaluating the material’s effectiveness, the team used sheep brains to poke around and detect at which pressures there was detectable tissue damage. The researchers believe that such force feedback technology can have substantial benefit in avoiding tissue damage during surgeries, particularly in such sensitive applications as neuro.
More about the sensor from the study abstract:
A photolithography process on a silicon wafer was used to produce a pattern of 80-μm-tall extrusions to serve as a positive mold for the sensor array. A thin layer of polydimethylsiloxane polymer was molded onto these features. Demolding the polymer from the wafer and sealing with another polymer layer resulted in microchannels. These microchannels were filled with a conductive liquid metal and connected to recording hardware. Spiral channel patterns were designed to create a 3 × 3 array of pressure-sensor pads, which were wrapped around a standard neuroendoscope operating sheath. Pressure readings from the compressed sensor array were translated into a color-coded graphic user interface.
Study abstract in Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics: Novel pressure-sensing skin for detecting impending tissue damage during neuroendoscopy.