Design and Evaluation of a Novel Haptic Interface for Endoscopic Simulation
Inspection of the colon with an endoscope for early signs of cancer (colonoscopy) has become an extremely widespread procedure, since early treatment radically improves the outlook of patients. The procedure requires a close coordination between the sense of touch and vision to navigate the endoscope along the colon. This raises the need to develop efficient training methods for physicians. Training simulators based on virtual reality, where realistic graphics are combined with a mechatronic system providing haptic feedback, are alternative to traditional training methods. To provide physicians with realistic haptic sensations of an endoscopic procedure, we have designed a haptic interface, instrumented a clinical endoscope and combined them with a simulation software for colonoscopy. In this contribution, we present the mechatronic components of the simulator. The haptic interface is able to generate high forces using the combination of electrical motors and brakes in a compact design. Experiments were performed to determine the characteristics of the device. A model-based control has been implemented and the results show that the control successfully compensates for the device nonlinearities, such as friction. The proposed haptic interface, together with the virtual reality, form a highly realistic training simulator for endoscopic surgeons, applicable not only to colonoscopy, but also to similar interventions.