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


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.