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Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2012;2012:1401-4. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2012.6346201.

Force sensing micro-forceps for robot assisted retinal surgery.

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Institute of Micro Technology and Medical Device Technology (MiMed), Technische Universität München, München, Germany.


Membrane peeling is a standard vitreoretinal procedure, where the surgeon delaminates a very thin membrane from retina surface using surgical picks and forceps. This requires extremely delicate manipulation of the retinal tissue. Applying excessive forces during the surgery can cause serious complications leading to vision loss. For successful membrane peeling, most of the applied forces need to be very small, well below the human tactile sensation threshold. In this paper, we present a robotic system that combines a force sensing forceps tool and a cooperatively-controlled surgical robot. This combination allows us to measure the forces directly at the tool tip and use this information for limiting the applied forces on the retina. This may prevent many iatrogenic injuries and allow safer maneuvers during vitreoretinal procedures. We show that our system can successfully eliminate hand-tremor and excessive forces in membrane peeling experiments on the inner shell membrane of a chicken embryo.

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