Real-Time Vision-Based Stiffness Mapping
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This paper presents new findings concerning a hand-held stiffness probe for the medical diagnosis of abnormalities during palpation of soft-tissue. Palpation is recognized by the medical community as an essential and low-cost method to detect and diagnose disease in soft-tissue. However, differences are often subtle and clinicians need to train for many years before they can conduct a reliable diagnosis. The probe presented here fills this gap providing a means to easily obtain stiffness values of soft tissue during a palpation procedure. Our stiffness sensor is equipped with a multi degree of freedom (DoF) Aurora magnetic tracker, allowing us to track and record the 3D position of the probe whilst examining a tissue area, and generate a 3D stiffness map in real-time. The stiffness probe was integrated in a robotic arm and tested in an artificial environment representing a good model of soft tissue organs; the results show that the sensor can accurately measure and map the stiffness of a silicon phantom embedded with areas of varying stiffness.