Recent advancements in robotic-assisted surgery have revolutionised the medical field by providing tools that can be used to simplify operations, and recovery of the patients. However, the main drawback remains in the lack of haptic feedback that these tools can provide. Hence, the use of such systems is limited in many surgical operations since the surgeon can only rely on visual information to evaluate tool-tissue interaction forces during surgery. In this paper we will focus on the palpation task to detect abnormalities. By using robotic systems, surgeons can no longer use long established techniques, such as manual tissue palpation, to identify and locate tissue abnormalities and hidden pathological lesions such as tumours. Although the problem has already been investigated in literature, the main objective of this paper is to attempt to tackle it from a different perspective with respect to the solutions available in literature. We propose a system that is a combination of a tomographic imaging technique and of a mechanical stimulation performed by a probe that applies a constant amount of force over the surface of a soft tissue. The measured values can be interpreted as an estimation of the stiffness of the underlying structure, thus giving us information about the presence of abnormalities. The experiments carried out using a simulated soft tissue show that the system can be used to detect the presence of inhomogeneity within a deformable structure by applying a constant pressure to the domain under investigation.
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