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This paper presents a new tactile-force integrated method to localize tumors minimally invasively using robotic assistance. This method relies on using a capacitive sensor at the tip of a Tactile Sensing Instrument (TSI) which can be inserted into a patient's body in a minimally invasive manner. In this work, the operator palpates tissue containing tumors in a minimally invasive surgical (MIS) training box, representing the patient's body, through a master-slave teleoperation system which consists of a 7 degrees-of-freedom (DOF) haptic interface, used as the master, and a Mitsubishi PA10-7C robot as the slave. Using the proposed method, the operator would be able to palpate the tissue consistently, observe the pressure distribution over the tissue by a color contour map on a screen and feel the tumor on his/her fingers through a grasping mechanism of the haptic interface as a result of higher stiffness of the tumor. The tissue used for the experiments was ex vivo bovine lung and seven participants were asked to locate artificial tumors embedded in the lungs. The results show an accuracy of 93% in tumor localization using the proposed method while the average force applied to the tissue was 3.42 N and the force never exceeded 6 N.

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