Wireless Palpation Capsule Restores Surgeons' Sense of Touch for Minimally Invasive Surgeries

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During open surgery, doctors rely on their sense of touch to identify the edges of hidden tumors and to locate hidden blood vessels and other anatomical structures - a procedure called palpation. But this practice is not possible in minimally invasive surgery where surgeons work with small, specialized tools and miniature cameras that fit through small incisions in a patient's skin. In order to provide the benefits of palpation to minimally invasive surgery, a team of engineers and doctors at Vanderbilt University has designed a special-purpose wireless capsule equipped with a pressure sensor that fits through the small ports that surgeons use for what is also called "keyhole" surgery. The capsule contains a pressure sensor, an accelerometer, a wireless transmitter, a magnetic field sensor, and a small battery.