The HapTech device is a medical device which serves as an add-on to existing monopolar electrocautery instruments used in laparoscopic surgery. It utilizes haptic feedback to compensate for the loss of depth perception and reduced tactile cues during minimally invasive procedures. The HapTech device provides vibrational feedback to surgeons when the electrode at the tool tip is conducting high-energy current through human tissue (i.e. cauterizing). Our device is primarily intended for use in laparoscopic procedures because inadvertent injuries often occur from the limitations of a two-dimensional display of the surgical field. Additionally, the HapTech device reduces the chance of injury due to cauterization of tissue outside the view of surgical field because it indicates when current is conducting through tissue regardless of its visibility to the surgeon. The HapTech device aims to minimize the risks associated with monopolar electrocautery in minimally invasive surgical procedures.
While minimally invasive surgery offers many advantages compared to open surgery, the use of video in laparoscopy limits the surgeon’s view to a 2D representation of a 3D field. This results in decreased spatial awareness and a reduction of force-mitigated cues due to the long tools, often leading to surgical errors. These errors are particularly hazardous in laparoscopic procedures involving monopolar electrocautery, where a high-energy electrical current is used to cut and coagulate tissue.
Errors in the use of electrocautery are extremely dangerous and potentially fatal, with complications occurring in up 1 of every 200 operations (Robinson et al., 2010). Thus, improving the surgeon’s spatial awareness of the instrument could significantly decrease the incidence of complications. As such, the HapTech device provides an additional feedback mechanism to alert the surgeon when tissue is being cauterized, in order to minimize inadvertent injuries.
The HapTech device consists of two main parts which communicate wirelessly: the cautery detection component and the feedback component. The device is noninvasively integrated into existing electrocautery systems by placing the ground pad wire of the generator through a current sense inductor located on our device. The feedback component consists of the vibrating actuator, which clips onto a laparoscopic tool handle, and a microcontroller strapped to the surgeon’s arm. The cautery detection component determines whether the electrode is conducting current through the tissue. This is achieved using the current sense inductor, which utilizes the flow of current through the ground pad wire to induce a secondary current. This induced secondary current is then processed by various circuitry components and subsequently analyzed to determine whether cauterization is occurring. If cautery is being delivered to the patient, the surgeon receives a vibrational cue on the tool handle.