Surgical tool handles with integrated feedback sensors
Feb 7, 2013 - Surgeons must operate with absolute precision; the handling of surgical tools requires the utmost sensitivity. A new kind of instrument handle will soon be supporting physicians in the OR. Fraunhofer researchers will present the first prototype at the 2013 Medtec trade show in Stuttgart from 26 to 28 February.
How deep have I already turned the screw into the bone? Did I apply too much force? Have we reached maximum force? While operating, surgeons have to ask these and similar questions. Until now, they only had their pure instinct and their experience to rely on. Yet soon, a vulcanized instrument handle, designed so that surgical tools – such as screwdrivers or spreaders – can be screwed into it, making precision surgeries easier to conduct. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart developed the device in collaboration with Weber Instrumente GmbH. By integrating electronic components, the surgeon is given feedback during the procedure, advising him if he can insert the instrument even further. For example, if he tightens a screw, then the sensors measure the applied force. Once the optimal torsional moment is reached, LEDs report this through an optical signal. This signal can be seen through the transparent silicon sections of the handle. “It is primarily the young, less experienced surgeons with little surgical practice who benefit the most from this technology,” says Christof Giers, scientist at IPA.
Modified from materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.
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