Teleoperation of steerable flexible needles by combining kinesthetic and vibratory feedback

A new journal article has been accepted for publication in the IEEE Transactions on Haptics!

C. Pacchierotti, M. Abayazid, S. Misra, D. Prattichizzo. “Teleoperation of steerable flexible needles by combining kinesthetic and vibratory feedback”. IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 2015.

Needle insertion in soft-tissue is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that demands high accuracy. In this respect, robotic systems with autonomous control algorithms have been exploited as the main tool to achieve high accuracy and reliability. However, for reasons of safety and responsibility, autonomous robotic control is often not desirable. Therefore, it is necessary to focus also on techniques enabling clinicians to directly control the motion of the surgical tools. In this work we address that challenge and present a novel teleoperated robotic system able to steer flexible needles.

The proposed system tracks the position of the needle using an ultrasound imaging system and computes needle’s ideal position and orientation to reach a given target. The master haptic interface then provides the clinician with mixed kinesthetic-vibratory navigation cues to guide the needle toward the computed ideal position and orientation.
Twenty participants carried out an experiment of teleoperated needle insertion into a soft-tissue phantom, considering four different experimental conditions. Participants were provided with either mixed kinesthetic-vibratory feedback or mixed kinestheticvisual feedback. Moreover, we considered two different ways of computing ideal position and orientation of the needle: with or without set-points. Vibratory feedback was found more effective than visual feedback in conveying navigation cues, with a mean targeting error of 0.72 mm when using set-points, and of 1.10 mm without set-points.

Full-text PDF:


Author: Claudio Pacchierotti

Claudio Pacchierotti received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Siena, Italy in 2009, 2011, and 2014, respectively. He was an exchange student at the Karlstad University, Sweden in 2010. He spent the first seven months of 2014 visiting the Penn Haptics Group at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, which is part of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory. He also visited the Dept. of Innovation in Mechanics and Management of the University of Padua and the Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine (MIRA) of the University of Twente in 2013 and 2014, respectively. He received the 2014 EuroHaptics Best PhD Thesis Award for the best doctoral thesis in the field of haptics. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Dept. of Advanced Robotics of the Italian Institute of Technology, Genova, Italy. His research deals with robotics and haptics, focusing on cutaneous force feedback techniques, wearable devices, and haptics for robotic surgery

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