Air-float palpation probe for tissue abnormality identification during minimally invasive surgery

Indika B. Wanninayake, Prokar Dasgupta, Lakmal D. Seneviratne, Kaspar Althoefer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This paper presents a novel palpation probe based on optical fiber technology. It is designed to measure stiffness distribution of a soft tissue while sliding over the tissue surface in a near frictionless manner. A novelty of the probe is its ability to measure indentation depth for nonplanar tissue profiles which are commonly experienced during surgery. Since tumors are often harder than the surrounding tissue, the proposed probe can intraoperatively aid the surgeon to rapidly identify the presence, location, and size of the tumors through the generation of a tissue stiffness map. The probe can concurrently measure tissue reaction force, indentation depth, and the orientation of the probe with respect to the tissue surface. Hence, it can generate an elasticity model of the tissue with minimum measurement inaccuracies caused by surface profile variations. Further, the probe has a tunable force range and the indentation force can be adjusted externally to match tissue limitations. The performance of the probe developed was validated using simulated soft tissues samples. Our tumor identification experiments showed that the probe can accurately identify the location and size of tumors hidden inside nonflat tissue surfaces. Further, the probe has clearly demonstrated its potential to identify tumors with tumor-tissue stiffness ratios as low as 2.1.

Original languageBritish English
Article number6517529
Pages (from-to)2735-2744
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2013


  • Cancer detection
  • Medical robotics
  • Optical sensors
  • Tumors


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