University of Leeds students are using haptic technology to detect cancer cysts without the use of intrusive surgery.
The project uses palpitation to feel ball-bearing cysts as deep as 12mm inside a simulated human liver.
Masters students hope their Palpatronix technology will initially be used as a training tool and eventually become common within cancer detection and surgical procedures.
The use of haptic technology within medicine is not new, Neuroarm was an early pioneer and haptics have since been integrated into the infamous DiVinci robot.
What is innovative about University of Leeds' program is the embedded measurement software that produces a virtual image of where the tumour is located, coupled with the surgeon's ability to accurately 'feel' the form of the tissue lumps through palpitation.
"Our use of haptics allows the surgeons to become more accurate in theatre," says Leeds student Earle Jamieson.
"The surgeon can actually feel throughout the surgical procedure which makes it more intuitive and natural than previous haptic technologies."
The first stage of the project was completed in only 20 weeks and received a nomination in National Instruments 2011 student design competition.
The project has already received interest from surgeons of neurological and prostate cancer as well being a future consideration for breast cancer research.