Before you read on, please be aware that the analysis below is my opinion only and may include flawed assumptions and inaccuracy of logic; therefore, caveat emptor applies here. Furthermore, all emphasis (color-coded, boldness, and underlined) on the excerpts are my own.
Although I had never met the designer of the Senhance, I could tell (aka my 2 cents) that a lot of painstaking details had been thoroughly analyzed to ensure a perfect design to not only counter the weaknesses of the Da Vinci but to satisfy the needs of the laparoscopy surgeons as well. The designer was a pure genius! There was no corner left unturned as it seemed. From the base of the independent arm to the arm itself holding the instrument, the size and weight of each segment of the robotic arm were calculated to provide the most stability and accuracy in handling the lap instrument tool at the endpoint while still providing haptic feedback. In a nutshell, logic dictates that stability and accuracy are the reasons why the Senhance is as large as it is.
In my humble opinion as a layman, I believe haptic feedback is the KING of all features in a robotic-assisted surgical device (RASD) that manipulates delicate human tissues and organs. Sharp metal and soft tissues/organs are a dangerous combination. Without haptic feedback, I can imagine that it’s so easy to cut the surrounding tissues and NOT knowing I’m doing it. I gathered (aka my 2 cents) the surgeon operating with the Da Vinci RASD is relying heavily on the visual. In the absence of haptic feedback, visual becomes paramount. And it’s my 2 cents that is the reason why the surgeon is forced to put their head on to the box-like device to look at the screen inside the box. It makes sense, the enclosed box forces you to pay 100% on the screen with zero distraction! Without haptic feedback, surgeons are required to pay extra attention to the video to avoid nicking surrounding tissues. I could imagine the exhaustive attention needed to perform surgical procedures using the Da Vinci.
Because we, as a human species, are adaptive in nature. After 18 years as the ONLY RASD (for soft tissues) in existence, I’m not surprised that many seasoned Da Vinci surgeons learned to work around the absence of haptic feedback. I believe it’s an acquired skill after a “relatively” long-period of exhaustive training and time spent in performing surgeries. It’s like driving a car when you are entirely deaf from plugging up your ears. Sure, most of the time, you can get by with visual only. But there will be moments when you fail to avoid an accident because you could not hear the honking of another car (or the sirens of a speeding fire truck/ambulance) that is out of your line-of-sight.
With the introduction of Senhance, haptic feedback is launched. Finally, surgeons can close the gap between the patient’s body and the surgeon’s hands while using a RASD. The instant connection to the touch of the tissue or organ is directly passed on to the surgeon’s hands as he takes over the controlling device. It’s a direct sensation of the organ. How can you beat that?
This is the round-trip haptic feedback involved push, pull, and sideway actions.
Take a look at the video below regarding haptic feedback:
I can see that the haptic feeling allows surgeons to instinctively adjust his/her force while navigating the instruments inside the fragile human body.
Let’s take a look at the haptic mechanism in the Senhance by looking at the picture below: Since I haven’t been to any introduction meeting to learn more about the Senhance, I can only use my logical deduction to figure out where the haptic mechanism is. My best bet is that it is where I drew a blue circle. I’m wondering if installing the haptic feedback mechanism on the Da Vinci will create even more arms collision due to the bulkiness of the forearm holding the instrument and the haptic sensors. Since the Senhance arms are not tethered together like the Da Vinci, the chance of arm collision can virtually be eliminated by careful placement of the independent robotic arms.
It baffled me when a few selected Da Vinci surgeons, as presented by WDR hit piece back in November, claimed haptic feedback was not necessary because they were perfectly fine relying only on video. Like I mentioned above, you can still drive the car with your ears plugged up; but why do you still want to keep doing that when you are provided with a mean to unplug your ear to allow the hearing to come through?
In the same manner of speaking, why do surgeons still want to use a RASD without haptic feedback when there is a RASD with haptic feedback available?
The way I see it, the magic of haptic feedback, once it becomes prevalent due to more Senhance being installed in hospitals, may have a slight chance of converting some Da Vinci surgeons to switch over if Da Vinci fails to come out with haptic feedback in their future upgrades.
There you have it. My 2 cents is that the magic of haptic feedback is going to take RASD to the next level.
Don’t forget; all the above are my opinions only!
Good Luck and may fortune blesses all TRXC investors.
My 2 cents.
From my camera: