Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 2 – 2002

Kenneth Salisbury, Computer Science
Tom Krummel, Surgery
Sabine Girod, Surgery
Jean-Claude Latombe, Computer Science

The goal of this project is to develop a realistic computer simulation of a surgical environment that can be used to better train medical students before they work on live humans. The focus of our research, in contrast to the sole emphasis of most previous work on physical modeling, is to understand and model the logical flow of specific events that can occur during an operation, so that the student learns the optimal sequence of actions to perform during a procedure.

Towards that end, in the first ten months of this research, we have developed a software tool that allows an experienced surgeon to express the actions and events that can occur in a specific procedure, and to use that information in a simulation. A demonstration has been developed using this tool that allows a user to perform a simulated excision of a tumor using a haptic (force-feedback) input/output device. The demonstration can be viewed in 3-D, and the user can simultaneously interact with the simulation using a separate haptic device for each hand. We are continuing work on improved graphic and haptic models of tissues and organs, enhanced coordination among multiple haptic devices and multiple users, and more realistic and complex surgical procedures.