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Air-float Palpation Probe for Tissue Abnormality Identification During Minimally Invasive Surgery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2735-2744
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number10
Early online date20 May 2013
E-pub ahead of print20 May 2013
PublishedOct 2013

King's Authors


This paper presents a novel palpation probe based on optical fiber technology. It is designed to measure stiffness distribution of a soft tissue while sliding over the tissue surface in a near frictionless manner. A novelty of the probe is its ability to measure indentation depth for non-planar tissue profiles which are commonly experienced during surgery. Since tumors are often harder than the surrounding tissue, the proposed probe can intra-operatively aid the surgeon to rapidly identify the presence, location and size of the tumors through the generation of a tissue stiffness map. The probe can concurrently measure tissue reaction force, indentation depth and the orientation of the probe with respect to the tissue surface. Hence it can generate an elasticity model of the tissue with minimum measurement inaccuracies caused by surface profile variations. Further, the probe has a tunable force range and the indentation force can be adjusted externally to match tissue limitations. The performance of the probe developed was validated using simulated soft tissues samples. Our tumor identification experiments showed that the probe can accurately identify the location and size of tumors hidden inside non-flat tissue surfaces. Further, the probe has clearly demonstrated its potential to identify tumors with tumor-tissue stiffness ratios as low as 2.1.

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