RPI receives $2.3 Million to develop hardware for training surgeons

A team of researchers has won a $2.3 million federal grant to develop a touch-sensitive virtual reality simulator that will standardize how surgeons are trained and certified to perform laparoscopic procedures.

A team of interdisciplinary researchers led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY, USA) has won a $2.3 million federal grant to develop a touch-sensitive virtual reality simulator that will standardize how surgeons are trained and certified to perform laparoscopic procedures.

The new four-year grant, awarded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health, tasks Rensselaer professor Suvranu De and his team of researchers with developing new hardware and software that effectively trains surgeons to perform these fundamental tasks. In addition, they are to objectively assesses the performance of physicians who are seeking to become certified in laparoscopic surgery.

A new virtual reality simulator will be developed to adhere to the standard and recommendations laid out in the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery – a comprehensive program being developed by a joint committee of the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgery (SAGES) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) for training and credentialing surgeons.

The new system features real laparoscopic tools, which are connected to equipment nearly identical to that used in actual surgical situations. Realistic computer-generated models of the simulation scene are displayed on a monitor, and the users interact with simulation both visually and using their sense of touch. The haptics technology ensures that a physician cutting or stitching tissue with the simulator will feel with their hands the lifelike toughness, sponginess, and resistance of virtual tissue. By pairing haptics with automation, the simulator will also be able to literally guide the hands of trainees, so they can see and feel the correct movements as they learn specific surgical tasks. The research team plans to make these simulations available over the Internet.

This new testing and training system will employ haptic technology, or touch feedback, which realistically replicates the sensation a surgeon would feel in his or her hands during an actual procedure. De, an expert in multiscale computer modeling and haptics, is joined by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Tufts University.

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Posted by Vision Systems Design

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