GMV's latest arthroscopic surgical simulator incorporates new virtual touch scenarios using SensAble's haptics

Woburn 30 April 2009SensAble Technologies Inc.'s customer GMV, based in Madrid, Spain, is showcasing an expanded set of touch-enabled features in a major new version of its insightArthroVR arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgery simulator at the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA) annual meeting in San Diego. These new touch-enabled features provide exceptional realism in teaching surgical residents to differentiate between the feeling of healthy and pathological conditions, and then simulate the feeling of corrective procedures, using SensAble's haptic devices and software toolkit.


In addition, a poster to be presented at the meeting by a GMV customer, the University of Chicago Medical Center, will highlight the results of a multi-year study where insightArthroVR, which incorporates SensAble's haptics, was tested as a valid way to assess surgeon competency.

With worldwide interest in technology that lowers medical provider training costs and improves patient safety - as well as heightened United States (US) interest due to US Recovery Act stimulus funding for surgical simulation training projects - GMV's insightArthroVR demonstrates the success of artificial touch-based solutions for training surgeons to mastery with zero risk to patients and fewer demands on medical centre personnel.

Orthopaedic surgeons performing arthroscopy have been at the forefront of surgical subspecialties to embrace haptically-enabled surgical simulation. While various studies designed to validate the value of force feedback in surgical simulators are underway, early results of testing in some surgical specialties are impressive. In one specialty, surgeons trained using haptics performed 36 percent faster and 97 percent more accurately when training with haptics than without. (Cho, Zho, Jones and Schwaltzberg, "Can Surgeons Think and Operate with Haptics at the Same Time?" Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, 11(11): 1564-9, November 2007).

insightArthroVR teaches surgeons the essential skills of triangulation, camera orientation, and hand-eye co-ordination for shoulder and/or knee arthroscopy. The system uses two PHANTOM Omni haptic devices from SensAble that allow the user to mimic surgical procedures using such tools as a probe and a burr. While surgeons follow GMV's training modules on a computer screen, the haptic devices they hold literally "push back" on their hands as they perform virtual surgery on physical 3D knee and shoulder models. In addition, the system generates realistic sounds and can assess skills.

GMV's team used SensAble's OpenHaptics software toolkit to develop the learning modules, and specify appropriate material properties and levels of force feedback - so that the student experiences the precise feeling of bone, cartilage, labrum, ligaments and tendons as they proceed through training exercises.

With insightArthroVR, surgical residents can better learn to identify knee and shoulder conditions at zero risk to the patient - and without the need for cadavers, which are costly or unavailable in some countries. Residents can train to perfection as they learn to distinguish the feeling of rough, damaged tissue compared to the smoothness of healthy tissue. They gain unlimited practice opportunities, with skill levels recorded for instructor review.

New features in the latest version of the insightArthroVR simulator expand the pathologic scenarios, training exercises and performance indicators in fundamental surgical procedures. For example, in the new version, surgical residents now can practise more steps in determining shoulder instability, or completing knee meniscetomies. The new version also adds more virtual instruments that the user can access during practice scenarios, including a tissue manipulator, basket grasper and anchors. All insightArthroVR instruments are touch-enabled so that the surgical resident can master their use under realistic scenarios.

GMV joins numerous other SensAble OEMs who are touch-enabling advanced medical and surgical simulation applications using SensAble's haptic devices and software toolkit. With 41 patents and over 7000 haptic devices shipped to date across a wide range of industries, SensAble allows simulation providers to incorporate the realistic "feelings" of anatomical objects and surgical procedures into their products.

"When surgeons can't rely on their eyes to guide them through specific aspects of surgical procedures, knowing how things should feel is paramount to imparting accuracy and confidence in students learning all kinds of skills related to blind surgical procedures", stated David Chen, Ph.D., chief technology officer of SensAble Technologies. "GMV's insightArthroVR solution keeps pushing the envelope in terms of leveraging the value of haptics in medical simulation."

GMV is a privately owned Spanish technology group founded in 1984 and trading on a worldwide scale in the following sectors: Aerospace, Defense and Security, Transport, Telecommunications and IT for public administration and large corporations. In 2008 it chalked up a revenue of 91,8 million euro and more than 1000 employees. The company's growth strategy is based on continual innovation; 10 percent of its turnover is plowed back into R&D. GMV hence ranks fifth among all Spanish firms in terms of returns on the European Community's Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development and holds several international patents.

GMV is currently one of the world's two foremost suppliers of satellite control centres; as a firm it boasts Europe's third biggest participation by volume in Galileo; it is the main supplier of C3I command and control systems to the Spanish army and the nation's top supplier of telematic systems for public transport. In the ICT sector it is a national benchmark as provider of advanced IP network security solutions and services, mobility applications and applications for the public sector and the development of e-Government. More company news is available in the VMW May 2008 article Immersion Medical and GMV sign agreement for new virtual reality arthroscopy simulation system.

Founded in 1993, SensAble Technologies is a developer of 3D touch-enabled (force feedback) solutions and technology that allow users to not only see and hear an on-screen computer application, but to actually "feel" it. SensAble Technologies' haptic technology is being used in applications ranging from designing toys and footwear, to surgical simulation and stroke rehabilitation, to dental restorations, as well as a range of research and robotic applications. The company markets its own 3D modelling solutions as well as its haptic devices and developer toolkits to medical, dental, design, and manufacturing companies; educational and research institutions; and OEMs. SensAble products are available through direct and reseller channels worldwide. More company news can be found in the VMW April 2009 article Heraeus Kulzer licenses acclaimed tooth library to SensAble to advance digital dental restorations.

Source: SensAble Technologies

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