Slash
Pressure Sensitive Tool Turns Surgery Into Real Life ‘Operation’ Game

German researchers develop a special pressure-sensing handle to aid young doctors

Daniela Walker
Daniela Walker on February 14, 2013. @emptyofpocket

Although being a doctor requires a lot of education, it also requires a lot of instinct – especially in the surgical ward where precision is key and practice makes perfect. It takes years of practice to know just the right amount of pressure to apply when tightening a screw in someone’s broken bone for instance, and young surgeons learn by doing. Later this month, researchers will present the prototype of a new handle that lights up when the correct amount of pressure has been applied.

The handle was a collaboration between the Stuttgart-based Fraunhofer IPA and Weber Instrumente GmbH. It  contains a sensor which measures the amount of force being applied and when the preset amount is reached, a red LED bulb lights up. It is standardized to fit most surgical instruments and is meant for surgeons who are still honing their skills. It is meant to enhance their skills and help them identify the correct pressure point, giving them a visual aid in addition to their own sensory experience.

The design of the instrument had to be in accordance with pristine hygienic state of a operating room, which means it could not have any seams or gaps that could breed bacteria. All electronics had to be contained within the device, so the creators enured the device could be wirelessly charged by induction. It is also encased in silicone so that it may be sterilized.

The prototype will be demonstrated a Medtec trade show in Stuttgart from February 26 – 28. If it is well received, soon, like in the game of Operation, when straying your tweezers too far made Cavity Sam’s nose light up, surgeons will also have an indication of going too far.

Fraunhofer // Weber Instrumente

Thinking...