The handling of surgical tools requires the utmost sensitivity. Surgeons need to know how deep they have turned a screw into a bone and whether they have applied the correct force in a critical operation.
Until now, they relied only on instinct and experience.
German researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA and Weber Instrumente have developed a vulcanized instrument handle incorporating an LED-based optical feedback system so that surgery can be easier, safer, and more precise.
The new device integrates electronic components to give the surgeon feedback during the procedure, advising him/her if an instrument can be inserted even further. For example, if she/he tightens a screw, then the sensors measure the applied force.
As soon as a medical procedure’s optimal torsional moment is reached, an LED on the inside of the instrument handle lights up to alert the surgeon.
“It is primarily the young, less-experienced surgeons with little surgical practice who will benefit the most from this technology,” says Christof Giers, a development scientist at Fraunhofer IPA.
The electrical power is supplied and stored via an inductive charging process or a coil system.
“One coil is located inside the hand grip; the other is in a little table. The surgeon merely has to put the handle on the table, and the battery is charged,” Giers adds.
All the electronics can be switched off for sterilization, maximizing the hygiene of the device.
The researchers say they plan to enhance the approximately 9-cm handle with a wireless interface so that the data can be transmitted to a PC, thus allowing the surgical process to be documented.
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