Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Engineering Science


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Dr. Rajni V. Patel


Manual palpation of tissue is frequently used in open surgery, e.g., for localization of tumors and buried vessels and for tissue characterization. The overall objective of this work is to explore how tissue palpation can be performed in Robot-Assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery (RAMIS) using laparoscopic instruments conventionally used in RAMIS. This thesis presents a framework where a surgical tool is moved teleoperatively in a manner analogous to the repetitive pressing motion of a finger during manual palpation. We interpret the changes in parameters due to this motion such as the applied force and the resulting indentation depth to accurately determine the variation in tissue stiffness. This approach requires the sensorization of the laparoscopic tool for force sensing. In our work, we have used a da Vinci needle driver which has been sensorized in our lab at CSTAR for force sensing using Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG). A computer vision algorithm has been developed for 3D surgical tool-tip tracking using the da Vinci 's stereo endoscope. This enables us to measure changes in surface indentation resulting from pressing the needle driver on the tissue. The proposed palpation framework is based on the hypothesis that the indentation depth is inversely proportional to the tissue stiffness when a constant pressing force is applied. This was validated in a telemanipulated setup using the da Vinci surgical system with a phantom in which artificial tumors were embedded to represent areas of different stiffnesses. The region with high stiffness representing tumor and region with low stiffness representing healthy tissue showed an average indentation depth change of 5.19 mm and 10.09 mm respectively while maintaining a maximum force of 8N during robot-assisted palpation. These indentation depth variations were then distinguished using the k-means clustering algorithm to classify groups of low and high stiffnesses. The results were presented in a colour-coded map. The unique feature of this framework is its use of a conventional laparoscopic tool and minimal re-design of the existing da Vinci surgical setup. Additional work includes a vision-based algorithm for tracking the motion of the tissue surface such as that of the lung resulting from respiratory and cardiac motion. The extracted motion information was analyzed to characterize the lung tissue stiffness based on the lateral strain variations as the surface inflates and deflates.