Surgical Simulators with Haptic Feedback

Training of Minimally Invasive Surgery

Virtual reality (VR) based surgery simulation opens up new fields in medical training and education. The surgeon is provided with a 3D scene of the modelled organs on the computer screen and with a haptic feedback at the tool handle of the surgical instrument.

The following advantages of VR-based surgery training with haptic feedback over traditional training methods are pointed out:

  • scheduling of both standard and exceptional training situations at a mouse click
  • repetition of identical training scenario
  • realistic simulation human anatomy and tissue behaviour
  • tracking of surgical gestures for further evaluation or replay


Haptic Interfaces

Our lab has involved in the developement of several surgical simulators for training of minimally invasive procedures. Our main contribution was on the hardware development and the control of haptic interfaces, the instrumentation of original clinical tools and the system integration. These are the surgical simulators developed in our lab:

Colonoscopy Simulator

Colonoscopy is a surgical procedure where the colon of a patient is examined with an endoscope. To address the need for higher fidelity and complexity in a colonoscopy simulator, we have designed a new haptic interface and instrumented a clinical colonoscope in order to integrate it with the software simulation for colonoscopy developed at CSIRO. Patent-pending design has been licensed to Surgical Science Sweden for commercialization. For more information:

Hysteroscopy Simulator

Hysteroscopy is the minimally-invasive inspection and treatment of the uterus through the vagina. Within the Swiss Research Framework ‘CO-ME’ (Computer-Aided and Image-Guided Medical Interventions), we realized a training environment for this intervention type. While the virtual-reality environment has been provided by the Computer-Vision Laboratory at ETHZ, a 4-DOF haptic device with comparatively large workspace has been developed at our lab. The 2-DOF friction drive for tool rotation and translation supports insertion and complete removal of the surgery tool during a training session. The compact device can be completely hidden from the surgeon’s eyeview within the mannequin torso for realistic atmosphere. 

Since October 2007, the Hysterscopy Simulator is being placed on the market by the project spin-off VirtaMed AG. Please visit VirtaMed for more information:

Laparoscopy Simulator

Laparoscopic surgery comprise minimally-invasive techniques on the human abdomen. The training of laparoscopic procedures has been one of the first foci of VR-based surgery training activities, which have already started in the early 1990’s and resulted in a spin-off company Xitact SA which was acquired by Mentice AB. For more information please visit:

Interventional Radiology Simulator

Interventional Radiology (IR) is a MIS technique where thin tubular instruments are steered through the patient’s vascular system under the X-ray imaging. These procedures demand highly trained and experienced specialists. A computer-based haptic interface was proposed as a quality training environment. The system is composed of a virtual reality (VR) environment and force feedback units for the surgical instruments.