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Project Brief

Open Competition 3 - Information Technology

Virtual Reality Based Surgical Simulation and Training System

Develop a virtual reality surgical simulation system for the training of surgeons through conveyance of realistic touch and force sensations back to the student coupled with realistic views, dynamically updated in real-time, of tissue and organs and their deformation when cut or probed with virtual surgical tools.

Sponsor: Yantric, Inc. (formerly Haptic Technologies, Inc.)

31 Cross Street
West Newton, MA 02465-2101
  • Project Performance Period: 11/1/2003 - 5/31/2007
  • Total project (est.): $2,214,600.00
  • Requested ATP funds: $1,994,600.00

Since ancient times, surgeons have learned their skills by practicing on cadavers, animals, and eventually, on live patients. But information technology is revolutionizing medical education, and soon most surgeons will be training for minimally invasive surgery (MIS) procedures on "virtual" patients instead of live ones. To this end, Haptic Technologies, Inc., will develop a virtual reality surgical simulation system that will allow the student to experience realistic visual and touch sensations during virtual surgery by utilizing haptic technologies coupled with dynamic visual scenes created from realistic images. The company will develop an efficient, real-time link between collision detection software modules and organ modules so that the student will see the realistic physical and physiological behavior of tissues rendered as a dynamic scene on TV display in front of them as they poke and probe these tissues with their virtual surgical instruments. At the same time, the surgeon trainee will feel the elasticity and movement of the tissue reacting to the probing and manipulation during the simulated procedure through the utilization of haptic interface devices. Some of the greatest technical risks include the modeling of specific tissue properties and organ boundary conditions as well as the scaling of computational performance to provide realism in the interaction between surgical tools and tissue models. If successful, the simulation system could be developed in several formats to allow cost-effective, on-demand training customized to the individual surgeon to focus on that person's skills, areas needing improvement, and their progress in improving surgical skills. Additionally, more and better trained surgeons in the area of MIS will be better able to meet the rapidly growing consumer demand for these types of less painful procedures that have been proven to result in better patient outcomes at less cost. Due to the high technical risk associated with the project, the small start-up company has not been able to obtain external funding. ATP funding will allow Haptic Technologies to leverage recent academic advancements in the areas of robotics and tissue modeling into a set of tools for the commercial marketplace that will advance the field of surgical simulation and training.

For project information:
Dr. Mandayam Srinivasan, (617) 332-0539

ATP Project Manager
Barbara Cuthill, (301) 975-3273

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