Technologies for haptic systems in telemedicine.

Studies in health technology and informatics

PubMedID: 15537234

Monkman GJ, Boese H, Ermert H, Klein D, Freimuth H, Baumann M, Egersdoerfer S, Bruhns OT, Meier A, Raja K. Technologies for haptic systems in telemedicine. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2004;9783-93.
The ability to image the elastic properties of tissue is potentially useful in a variety of applications. The field of elastic imaging has grown in response to the potential use of such information in medical diagnosis. Real time ultrasound elastography represents a recent development in determining strain and elasticity distributions. Nevertheless, commonly used imaging techniques rely on the interpretation of two dimensional visual data displayed on a video screen. In reality however, physicians often prefer tactile exploration making the simultaneous portrayal of both video and haptic information most desirable. Since the 1970's many alphanumeric to tactile data conversion methods have been investigated, mainly with the ultimate aim of assisting the blind. More recently, interest has been directed toward the display of pictures on haptically explorable surfaces--Tactile imaging. Such a system would allow surgeons to examine hard sectors contained within soft tissue, and thereby assist in operations held remotely. The expansion of ultrasound elastography to 3D formats would mean the ability to haptically explore regions of the body normally inaccessible to human hands. For three-dimensional imaging the acquisition of sequential tomographic slices using Elastography, combined with image segmentation, enables the reconstruction, quantification and visualisation of tumour volumes. In a collaborative project between four research institutes, the aim is to produce a prototype three dimensional tactile displays comprising electrically switchable micromachined cells, whose mechanical moduli are governed by phase changes experienced by electrorheological and/or magnetorheological fluids. This will be integrated with a sensory ultrasonic elastography in order to present the human fingers with controllable surfaces capable of emulating biological tissue, muscle and bone.