Hand–tool–tissue interaction forces in neurosurgery for haptic rendering

Marco Aggravi, Elena de Momi, Francesco DiMeco, Francesco Cardinale, Giuseppe Casaceli, Marco Riva, Giancarlo Ferrigno, Domenico Prattichizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Haptics provides sensory stimuli that represent the interaction with a virtual or tele-manipulated object, and it is considered a valuable navigation and manipulation tool during tele-operated surgical procedures. Haptic feedback can be provided to the user via cutaneous information and kinesthetic feedback. Sensory subtraction removes the kinesthetic component of the haptic feedback,having only the cutaneous component provided to the user. Such a technique guarantees a stable haptic feedback loop, while it keeps the transparency of the tele-operation system high, which means that the system faithfully replicates and render back the user’s directives. This work focuses on checking whether the interaction forces during a bench model neurosurgeryoperation can lie in the solely cutaneous perception of the human finger pads. If this assumption is found true, it would be possible to exploit sensory subtraction techniques for providing surgeons with feedback from neurosurgery. We measured the forces exerted to surgical tools by three neurosurgeons performing typical actions on a brain phantom, using contact force sensors, while the forces exerted by the tools to the phantom tissue were recorded using a load cell placed under the brain phantom box. The measured surgeon–tool contact forces were 0.01–3.49 N for the thumb and 0.01–6.6 N for index and middle finger, whereas the measured tool–tissue interaction forces were from six to 11 times smaller than the contact forces, i.e., 0.01–0.59 N. The measurements for thecontact forces fit the range of the cutaneous sensitivity for the human finger pad; thus, we can say that, in a tele-operated robotic neurosurgery scenario, it would possible to render forces at the fingertip level by conveying haptic cues solely through the cutaneous channel of the surgeon’s finger pads. This approach would allow high transparency and high stability of the haptic feedback loop in a tele-operation system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalMedical & Biological Engineering & Computing
StateAccepted/In press - Dec 31 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain phantom forces
  • Contact forces
  • Haptic rendering
  • Neurosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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