Detection of hard inclusions within soft tissue in robotic assisted minimally invasive surgery (MIS), also referred to as laparoscopic surgery, is of great importance, both in clinical and surgical applications. In clinical applications, surgeons need to detect and precisely identify the location and size of all growths, whether cancerous or benign, that are present within surrounding tissue in order to assess the extent and nature of any future treatment plan. In surgical applications, when any solid matter is being removed, it is important to avoid accidental injury to surrounding tissues and blood vessels since, were this to occur, it could then necessitate the need to resort to open surgery. The present study is aimed at developing a three-dimensional tactile display that provides palpation capability to any surgeon performing robotic assisted MIS. The information is collected from two force sensor/pressure matrices and processed with a new algorithm and graphically rendered. Consequently, the surgeon can determine the presence, location, and the size of any hidden superficial tumor/artery by grasping the target tissue in a quasi-dynamic way. The developed algorithm is presented, and the results for various configurations of embedded tumor/arteries inside the tissue are compared with those of the finite element analysis.

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