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Robot's gentle touch aids delicate cancer surgery
Date:8/21/2009

Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC (August 21, 2009) New, delicate surgery techniques to hunt for tumours could benefit from a lighter touch but from a robot, rather than from a human hand. Canadian researchers have created a touchy-feely robot that detects tougher tumour tissue in half the time, and with 40% more accuracy than a human. The technique also minimises tissue damage.

Surgeons have developed new minimally invasive surgery (MIS) techniques and instruments so that procedures that would previously have required a large incision can now be performed through a tiny 10mm cut. These new methods reduce tissue damage and infection compared with more traditional surgery, and can reduce recovery times and costs.

However, researchers from the University of Western Ontario and Canadian Surgical Technologies and Advanced Robotics (CSTAR) in London, Ontario identified an issue in MIS, and have come up with a robotic solution, which they detail in the International Journal of Robotics Research, published today by SAGE.

Malignant tissue is usually stiffer than the surrounding tissue. Oncologists use scanning techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scanning pre-operatively to identify lesions. But tissues may shift during surgery, making it hard to rely on the position identified by the scan.

So instead surgeons use gentle pressure (palpation) to confirm where the tumour is, or to locate further tumours not picked up through scanning. But in MIS this can be very tricky due to access difficulties - as the surgeon must attempt to feel for harder tissue using long, slim instruments via a very small incision.

An alternative is to relay touch (haptic) cues via an instrument. Haptic cues include kinaesthetic information, relating to movement, which helps determine the shape and stiffness of an object, and tactile cues about surface textures. A variety of
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Contact: Mithu Mukherjee
mithu.mukherjee@sagepub.co.uk
44-207-324-2223
SAGE Publications UK
Source:Eurekalert

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