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Surg Endosc. 2013 Jul;27(7):2391-7. doi: 10.1007/s00464-012-2745-y. Epub 2013 Jan 26.

Perceiving haptic feedback in virtual reality simulators.

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Department of Medical Technology, SINTEF Technology and Society, PB 4760 Sluppen, 7465 Trondheim, Norway.



To improve patient safety, training of psychomotor laparoscopic skills is often done on virtual reality (VR) simulators outside the operating room. Haptic sensations have been found to influence psychomotor performance in laparoscopy. The emulation of haptic feedback is thus an important aspect of VR simulation. Some VR simulators try to simulate these sensations with handles equipped with haptic feedback. We conducted a survey on how laparoscopic surgeons perceive handles with and without haptic feedback.


Surgeons with different levels of experience in laparoscopy were asked to test two handles: Xitact IHP with haptic feedback and Xitact ITP without haptic feedback (Mentice AB, Gothenburg, Sweden), connected to the LapSim (Surgical Science AB, Sweden) VR simulator. They performed two tasks on the simulator before answering 12 questions regarding the two handles. The surgeons were not informed about the differences in the handles.


A total of 85 % of the 20 surgeons who participated in the survey claimed that it is important that handles with haptic feedback feel realistic. Ninety percent of the surgeons preferred the handles without haptic feedback. The friction in the handles with haptic feedback was perceived to be as in reality (5 %) or too high (95 %). Regarding the handles without haptic feedback, the friction was perceived as in reality (45 %), too low (50 %), or too high (5 %). A total of 85 % of the surgeons thought that the handle with haptic feedback attempts to simulate the resistance offered by tissue to deformation. Ten percent thought that the handle succeeds in doing so.


The surveyed surgeons believe that haptic feedback is an important feature on VR simulators; however, they preferred the handles without haptic feedback because they perceived the handles with haptic feedback to add additional friction, making them unrealistic and not mechanically transparent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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