A Sensorised Surgical Glove to Analyze Forces During Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery 92:639–646, 2023

Measuring intraoperative forces in real time can provide feedback mechanisms to improve patient safety and surgical training. Previous force monitoring has been achieved through the development of specialized and adapted instruments or use designs that are incompatible with neurosurgical workflow.

OBJECTIVE: To design a universal sensorised surgical glove to detect intraoperative forces, applicable to any surgical procedure, and any surgical instrument in either hand.

METHODS: We created a sensorised surgical glove that was calibrated across 0 to 10 N. A laboratory experiment demonstrated that the sensorised glove was able to determine instrument-tissue forces. Six expert and 6 novice neurosurgeons completed a validated grape dissection task 20 times consecutively wearing the sensorised glove. The primary outcome was median and maximum force (N).

RESULTS: The sensorised glove was able to determine instrument-tissue forces reliably. The average force applied by experts (2.14 N) was significantly lower than the average force exerted by novices (7.15 N) (P = .002). The maximum force applied by experts (6.32 N) was also significantly lower than the maximum force exerted by novices (9.80 N) (P = .004). The sensorised surgical glove’s introduction to operative workflow was feasible and did not impede on task performance.

CONCLUSION: We demonstrate a novel and scalable technique to detect forces during neurosurgery. Force analysis can provide real-time data to optimize intraoperative tissue forces, reduce the risk of tissue injury, and provide objective metrics for training and assessment.