Title:
SYNTHETIC REPRESENTATION OF A SURGICAL INSTRUMENT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A synthetic representation of a tool for display on a user interface of a robotic system. The synthetic representation may be used to show force on the tool, an actual position of the tool, or to show the location of the tool when out of a field of view. A three-dimensional pointer is also provided for a viewer in the surgeon console of a telesurgical system.



Inventors:
Larkin, David Q. (Menlo Park, CA, US)
Hoffman, Brian D. (Sunnyvale, CA, US)
Mohr, Paul W. (Mountain View, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/415332
Publication Date:
07/30/2009
Filing Date:
03/31/2009
Assignee:
Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A61B19/00
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Primary Examiner:
DOWNEY, JOHN R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENT DEPT;INTUITIVE SURGICAL, INC (1266 KIFER RD, BUILDING 101, SUNNYVALE, CA, 94086, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A robotic surgical system, comprising: a tool for performing surgery; data for providing a synthetic representation of the tool; an image capturing device that captures an image of the tool; a display; a first component coupling the image capture device to the display so as to display an image of the tool in the display; and a second component coupling the data to the display so as to display the synthetic representation of the tool simultaneously with the displayed image of the tool.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the display comprises a viewer of a surgeon console of the robotic surgical system.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the synthetic representation comprises a model of the tool.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the synthetic representation is displayed to appear overlaid at least in part on the image of the tool.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the synthetic representation represents a position of the tool, an orientation of the tool, or both.

6. The system of claim 1: wherein the synthetic representation is displayed to appear outside a displayed image from a field of view of the image capture device.

7. In a robotic surgical system comprising a surgical tool and an image capture device, a method comprising: capturing an image of the surgical tool within a field of view of the image capture device; displaying the captured image in a surgical display; and displaying a synthetic representation of the surgical tool in the surgical display.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the display comprises a viewer of a surgeon console of the robotic surgical system.

9. The method of claim 7, wherein the synthetic representation comprises a model of the surgical tool.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein displaying the synthetic representation of the surgical tool comprises displaying the synthetic representation of the surgical tool to appear at least in part overlaid on the displayed image of the surgical tool.

11. The method of claim 7, wherein the synthetic representation represents a position of the surgical tool, an orientation of the surgical tool, or both.

12. The method of claim 7, wherein the synthetic representation of the surgical tool is displayed to appear outside the displayed image of the surgical tool.

13. A method of providing a visual representation of a position of a tool in a robotic system, the method comprising: displaying a first image comprising video feed of a field of view showing a region, with the region containing a tool; and displaying a second image representing a position of the tool, an orientation of the tool, or both, superimposed on the first image.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the second image comprises a synthetic representation of the tool.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the synthetic representation of the tool comprises a three-dimensional model of the tool.

16. The method of claim 13, further comprising, tracking movement of the tool, and responsive to a movement of the tool to a new location, changing the second image to match the new position of the tool, the orientation of the tool, or both.

17. The method of claim 14, further comprising: displaying the second image as a non-three-dimensional model of the tool if at least a portion of the tool appears in the first image; and displaying the second image as a three-dimensional model of the tool if the tool does not appear in the first image.

18. The method of claim 13: displaying the second image only if the tool does not appear in the first image.

19. The method of claim 13, further comprising altering the second image based upon the availability of the first image.

20. A robotic system, comprising: a surgical tool; data for providing a synthetic representation of the tool; an image capturing device that captures an image within a field of view; a display comprising a first portion in which the captured image is displayed and a second portion in which a window that represents space adjacent the captured image and outside the field of view is displayed; and a first component coupling the data to the display so as to superimpose in the window at least part of the synthetic representation of the tool, wherein the synthetic representation comprises a graphical representation of a position of the tool, an orientation of the tool, or both.

21. The system of claim 20, wherein the synthetic representation of the tool comprises a three-dimensional model of the tool.

22. The system of claim 21, further comprising: a second component coupled to the tool; wherein the second component generates information about movement of the tool to a new position, a new orientation, or both; and wherein the second component is configured to change the position, the orientation, or both, of the displayed synthetic representation based upon the information.

23. The system of claim 22, wherein the new position is in the field of view.

24. A robotic surgical system, comprising: a surgical tool; a display; a synthetic rendering of the tool, wherein the synthetic rendering appears on the display; a synthetic rendering of a pointing device that appears in three dimensions on the display; and a master input device; wherein in a first mode the master input device controls movement of the surgical tool, in a second mode the master input device controls movement on the display of the synthetic rendering of the surgical tool, and in a third mode the master input device controls movement on the display of the synthetic rendering of the pointing device.

25. The system of claim 24: wherein the pointing device comprises a synthetic rendering of a surgical tool that appears to be three-dimensional on the display; and wherein in the third mode the pointing device appears to move on the display in a plurality of degrees of freedom in response to corresponding movement of the master input device.

26. The system of claim 24, further comprising: a menu that appears on the display; wherein the pointing device moves and selects an item on the menu.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/478,531 (filed Jun. 29, 2006), and this application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/762,202 (filed Jun. 13, 2007), both of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

Minimally invasive surgeries performed by robotic surgical systems are known and commonly used in clinical procedures where it is advantageous for a human not to perform surgery directly. One example of such a system is the minimally invasive robotic surgery system described in commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 7,155,315 (filed Dec. 12, 2005). The da Vinci® Surgical Systems manufactured by Intuitive Surgical, Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif. are illustrative implementations of minimally invasive robotic surgical systems (e.g., teleoperated; telesurgical).

A common form of minimally invasive surgery is endoscopy. Endoscopic surgical instruments in minimally invasive medical techniques generally include an endoscope for viewing the surgical field and working tools that include end effectors. Typical surgical end effectors include clamps, graspers, scissors, staplers, or needle holders, as examples. The working tools are similar to those used in conventional (open) surgery, except that the end effector of each tool is supported on the end of, for example, an approximately 12-inch-long extension tube.

To manipulate end effectors, a human operator, typically a surgeon, manipulates or otherwise commands a master manipulator. Commands from the master manipulator are translated as appropriate and sent to a slave manipulator. The slave manipulator then manipulates the end effectors according to the operator's commands.

Force feedback may be included in minimally invasive robotic surgical systems. To provide such feedback, the remote slave manipulators typically provide force information to the master manipulator, and that force information is utilized to provide force feedback to the surgeon so that the surgeon is given the perception of feeling forces acting on a slave manipulator. In some force feedback implementations, haptic feedback may provide an artificial feel to the surgeon of tissue reactive forces on a working tool and its end effector.

Often, the master controls, which are typically located at a surgeon console, will include a feature for releasing control of one of the work tools at the patient site. This feature may be used, for example, in a system where there are more than two working tools (and thus more surgical instruments than surgeon's hands). In such a system, the surgeon may release control of one working tool by one master and then establish control (grab) of another working tool with that master.

When reaching to grab another working tool, the master manipulator may provide haptic feel so that a surgeon receives feedback that the tool has been grabbed or released. Such feedback is sometimes referred to as a “haptic detent.” The haptic detent permits the surgeon to recognize when the master manipulator is in the correct location and orientation to grab a tool. An example of a haptic detent is described, for example, in U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. US 2007/0021738 A1 (filed Jun. 6, 2006). While such haptic detents work well for their intended purpose, the hardware required to provide any haptic feedback to a surgeon's hands can be complicated and expensive.

Utilizing more than two working tools can present other issues. For example, when a surgeon releases one working tool and tries to grasp a new working tool, the new working tool may be out of the endoscopic field of view for the surgeon.

In general, in telesurgical systems, the surgeon is provided an “internal user interface.” This internal user interface is the screen that can be seen by the surgeon while looking into the viewer of the surgeon console. The items shown on this user interface typically include the field of view that is provided from the endoscope and often other critical information, such as system or tool status information. Special care is taken in the design of this internal user interface to ensure it is as natural as possible so as to not distract the surgeon from the surgery itself. In addition to this user interface, often a second “external” user interface is provided in which another operator may view some features of the telesurgical system and provide some noncritical adjustments, such as endoscopic illumination brightness, for example. In practice, however, the surgeon sometimes has to remove his or her head from the viewer to access and view the information available on the secondary interface, which interrupts the surgical work.

BRIEF SUMMARY

The following presents a simplified summary of some embodiments of the invention in order to provide a basic understanding of the invention. This summary is not an extensive overview of the invention. It is not intended to identify key/critical elements of the invention or to delineate the scope of the invention. Its sole purpose is to present some embodiments of the invention in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is presented later.

In an embodiment, a robotic surgical system is provided. The system includes a tool for performing surgery on a patient; data for providing a synthetic representation of the tool; an image capturing device for capturing a field of view including an image of the tool; a display; a first component coupling the image capture device to the display so as to display the field of view in the display; and a second component coupling the data to the display so as to display the synthetic representation of the tool including a graphical representation of an orientation of the tool.

A method is provided including a tool for performing surgery on a patient; data for providing a synthetic representation of the tool; an image capturing device for capturing a field of view including an image of the tool; a display; a first component coupling the image capture device to the display so as to display the field of view in the display; and a second component coupling the data to the display so as to display the synthetic representation of the tool including a graphical representation of an orientation of the tool.

In another embodiment, a method is provided a visual representation a position of a tool in a robotic system. The method includes displaying a first image comprising a video feed of a tool within a field of view; and superimposing on the first image a second image representing a position of the tool, an orientation of the tool, or both.

In yet another embodiment, a robotic system is provided. The system includes a tool for performing surgery on a patient; data for providing a synthetic representation of the tool; an image capturing device for capturing a field of view including an image of the tool; a display; a first component coupling the image capturing device to the display so as to display the field of view in the display; and a second component coupling the data to the display so as to superimpose over the field of view the synthetic representation of the tool including a graphical representation of a position of the tool, an orientation of the tool, or both.

In still another embodiment, a robotic surgical system is provided. The method includes a tool for performing surgery on a patient; an image capturing device for capturing a field of view including an image of the tool; a master for inputting a movement; a display for displaying the field of view; the master selectively operatively connectable to the tool by a first component so as to generate a following movement of the tool in response to the input movement; and the master selectively operatively connectable to the display by a second component so as to generate a three-dimensional pointing image displayed on the display, and so as to follow movement of the master controller with the three dimensional pointing image.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a top view of an operating room which includes a minimally invasive telesurgical system in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 2 is front view of a patient cart for the minimally invasive telesurgical system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram representing components of the minimally invasive telesurgical system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram representing components for a computer for use in the minimally invasive telesurgical system of FIG. 1 in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart representing steps for calculating force on an end effector in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic representation of movement of an end effector between positions A and B with force F resisting the movement;

FIG. 7 is a flowchart representing steps for displaying force in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 8 is a side perspective view of an end effector and synthetic representation of an end effector showing force in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 9 is a flowchart representing steps for displaying a synthetic model in accordance with an embodiment;

FIG. 10 is a representation of a view through a viewer of a surgeon console, with the view including a field of view and an outer view pane;

FIG. 11 is a flowchart showing steps for displaying a synthetic tool at the actual location of a tool in accordance with an embodiment; and

FIG. 12 is a diagrammatic representation of a display utilizing a pointing device in accordance with an embodiment; and

FIG. 13 is a side perspective view of a master controller in accordance with an embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description, various aspects and embodiments of the present invention will be described. For purposes of explanation, specific configurations and details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the embodiments. However, it will also be apparent to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without the specific details. Furthermore, well-known features may be omitted from this description or simplified in order not to obscure the embodiment being described.

Referring now to the drawings, in which like reference numerals represent like parts throughout several views, FIG. 1 shows a minimally invasive telesurgical system 20 having an operator station or surgeon console 30 in accordance with an embodiment. The surgeon console 30 includes a viewer 32 where an image of a surgical site is displayed to a surgeon S. As is known, a support (not shown) is provided on which the surgeon S can rest his or her forearms while gripping two master controls 700 (FIG. 13), one in each hand. More controls may be provided if more end effectors are available, but typically a surgeon manipulates only two controls at a time and, if multiple end effectors are used, the surgeon releases one end effector with a master control 700 and grasps another with same master control. When using the surgeon console 30, the surgeon S typically sits in a chair in front of the surgeon console, positions his or her eyes in front of the viewer 32, and grips the master controls 700, one in each hand, while resting his or her forearms on the support.

A patient side cart 40 of the telesurgical system 20 is positioned adjacent to a patient P. In use, the patient side cart 40 is positioned close to the patient P requiring surgery. The patient side cart 40 typically is stationary during a surgical procedure. The surgeon console 30 is typically positioned remote from the patient side cart 40, and it may be separated from the patient side cart by a great distance—even miles away—but will typically be used within the same operating room as the patient side cart.

The patient side cart 40, shown in more detail in FIG. 2, typically includes two or more robotic arm assemblies. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, the patient side cart 40 includes four robotic arm assemblies 42, 44, 46, 48, but more or less may be provided. Each robotic arm assembly 42, 44, 46, 48 is normally operatively connected to one of the master controls of the surgeon console 30. Thus, movement of the robotic arm assemblies 44, 46 48 is controlled by manipulation of the master controls.

One of the robotic arm assemblies, indicated by the reference numeral 42, is arranged to hold an image capturing device 50, e.g., an endoscope, or the like. The endoscope or image capturing device 50 includes a viewing end 56 at a remote end of an elongate shaft 54. The elongate shaft 54 permits the viewing end 56 to be inserted through a surgery entry port of the patient P. The image capturing device 50 is operatively connected to the viewer 32 of the surgeon console 30 to display an image captured at its viewing end 56.

Each of the other robotic arm assemblies 44, 46, 48 includes a surgical instrument or tool 60, 62, 64, respectively. The tools 60, 62, 64 of the robotic arm assemblies 44, 46, 48 include end effectors 66, 68, 70, respectively. The end effectors 66, 68, 70 are mounted on wrist members which are pivotally mounted on distal ends of elongate shafts of the tools, as is known in the art. The tools 60, 62, 64 have elongate shafts to permit the end effectors 66, 68, 70 to be inserted through surgical entry ports of the patient P. Movement of the end effectors 66, 68, 70 relative to the ends of the shafts of the tools 60, 62, 64 is also controlled by the master controls of the surgeon console 30.

The depicted telesurgical system 20 includes a vision cart 80. In an embodiment, the vision cart 80 includes most of the computer equipment or other controls for operating the telesurgical system 20. As an example, signals sent by the master controllers of the surgeon console 30 may be sent to the vision cart 80, which in turn may interpret the signals and generate commands for the end effectors 66, 68, 70 and/or robotic arm assemblies 44, 46, 48. In addition, video sent from the image capturing device 50 to the viewer 34 may be processed by, or simply transferred by, the vision cart 80.

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic representation of the telesurgical system 20. As can be seen, the system includes the surgeon console 30, the patient side cart 40, and the vision cart 80. In addition, in accordance with an embodiment, an additional computer 82 and display 84 are provided. These components may be incorporated in one or more of the surgeon console 30, the patient side cart 40, and/or the vision cart 80. For example, the features of the computer 82 may be incorporated into the vision cart 80. In addition, the features of the display 84 may be incorporated into the surgeon console 30, for example, in the viewer 32, or maybe provided by a completely separate display or the surgeon console or on another location. In addition, in accordance with an embodiment, the computer 82 may generate information that may be utilized without a display, such as the display 84.

Although described as a “computer,” the computer 82 may be a component of a computer system or any other software or hardware that is capable of performing the functions described herein. Moreover, as described above, functions and features of the computer 82 may be distributed over several devices or software components. Thus, the computer 82 shown in the drawings is for the convenience of discussion, and it may be replaced by a controller, or its functions may be provided by one or more components.

FIG. 4 shows components of the computer 82 in accordance with an embodiment. In the embodiment shown in the drawing, the computer 82 includes a tool tracking component 90, a kinematic component 92, and a force component 94. Briefly described, the tool tracking component 90 and kinematic component 92 provide information to the force component 94, which in turn outputs a force output 96.

A positional component is included in or is otherwise associated with the computer 82. The positional component provides information about a position of an end effector, such as one of the end effectors 66, 68, 70. In the embodiment shown in the drawings, the tool tracking component 90 is the positional component, and it provides information about a position of an end effector, such as the end effectors 66, 68, 70. As used herein, “position” means at least one of the location and/or the orientation of the end effector. A variety of different technologies may be used to provide information about a position of an end effector, and such technologies may or may not be considered tool tracking devices. In a simple embodiment, the positional component utilizes video feed 98 from the image capturing device 50 to provide information about the position of an end effector, but other information may be used instead of, or in addition to, this visual information, including sensor information, kinematic information, any combination of these, or additional information that may provide the position and/or orientation of the end effectors 66, 68, 70. Examples of systems that may be used for the tool tracking component 90 are disclosed in, U.S. Pat. No. 5,950,629 (filed Apr. 28, 1994), U.S. Pat. No. 6,468,265 (filed Nov. 9, 1999), U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. US 2006/0258938 A1 (filed May 16, 2005), and U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. US 2008/0004603 A1 (filed Jun. 29, 2006). In accordance with an embodiment, the tool tracking component 90 utilizes the systems and methods described in commonly owned U.S. Pat. App. No. 61/204,084 (filed Dec. 31, 2008). In general, the positional component maintains information about the actual position and orientation of end effectors. This information is updated depending upon when the information is available, and may be, for example, asynchronous information.

The kinematic component 92 is generally any device that estimates a position, herein a “kinematic position,” of an end effector utilizing information available through the telesurgical system 20. In an embodiment, the kinematic component 92 utilizes kinematic position information from joint states of a linkage to the end effector. For example, the kinematic component 92 may utilize the master/slave architecture for the telesurgical system 20 to calculate intended Cartesian positions of the end effectors 66, 68, 70 based upon encoder signals for the joints in the linkage for each of the tools 60, 62, 64. An example of a kinematic system is described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,155,315, although others may be utilized.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart representing steps for calculating force on an end effector in accordance with an embodiment. At step 500, the end effector begins at position A. At step 502, the actual position of the end effector is stored. This actual position is obtained by, for example, the tool tracking component 90. At step 504, the kinematic information for the end effector is stored. This information may be obtained, for example, via the kinematic component 92.

Because of the large number of joints and movable parts, current kinematics typically does not provide exact information for the location of a surgical end effector in space. A system with sufficient rigidity and sensing could theoretically provide near-exact kinematic location information. However, in current minimal invasive surgery systems, often the kinematic information may be inaccurate by up to an inch in any direction. Thus, in accordance with an embodiment, but not necessarily used with the method disclosed in FIG. 5, an offset may be stored at step 506. This offset provides information regarding the difference between the kinematic information stored in step 504 and the actual position information stored in step 502. Utilizing the offset, the kinematic information and the actual position information may be registered to the same position.

At step 508, the end effector moves to position B. In step 510, the change in actual position of the end effector is calculated between the actual position of the tool at position B versus the actual position of the tool in position A. At step 512, the change in position is calculated using kinematic information obtained via the kinematic component 92. If desired, although not required, another offset may be determined at position B. At step 514, the force on the tool is represented by the difference between the change in actual positions between A and B and the change in kinematic positions between A and B. The difference between the change in actual position and the change in kinematic position is a representation of the direction and amount of force applied to the end effector, for example, supplied by contact of the end effector with body parts.

As an example, FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic representation of movement of an end effector from position A to position B with force F resisting the movement. At position A, an image of an end effector 110 has an actual position shown by the solid outer line for the end effector. Kinematic information for the end effector is represented by the dotted line 112. In the diagram shown in the drawing, the kinematic position information matches the actual position information. In reality, however, as described above, the kinematic position information may vary to some degree, and it may not match the actual position unless the offset provided in step 506 is utilized. For this example, it is assumed that the offset is used or that the kinematic information matches the actual information exactly at position A. Thus, the dotted line 112, representing the kinematic position information provided by the kinematic component 92, matches the position of the image 110 of the end effector, representing actual position information provided by the tool tracking component 90.

At position B, the actual position of the end effector, represented by the image 113, is shown as being moved from position A. This actual position, as described above, is calculated by the tool tracking component 90. The kinematic position information, estimates, however, that the tool, in movement from position A to position B, is now at the dotted line 114 shown with position B. The dotted line 114 represents a position where the end effector would be if moved without force being applied to the end effector 110. Absent force being applied to the end effector, this estimate is typically accurate. Although, as described above, kinematic position information is typically not accurate for determining a position of an end effector in space at a start of a process, the kinematic position information typically is accurate in determining a change in position of an end effector.

The position shown by the dotted line 114 assumes that the beginning point of movement for the end effector, with respect to the kinematic component 92, is the line 112. If the kinematic position information did not match the actual position information at position A, then the offset provided in step 506 may be utilized at position B to project the relative position of the dotted line 114 assuming a start at line 112.

The dotted line 114 is in a different location than the actual position of the end effector due to the difference between the kinematic position information and the actual position information. The difference between the two is due to force applied to the end effector in the movement from position A to position B. For example, in the example shown in FIG. 6, a force F is applied to the end effector during movement. This force prevents the end effector from moving fully as estimated by the kinematic component 92, shown by the dotted line 114. Instead, the combination of the movement of the linkage for the end effector 110 and the force F results in the end effector being positioned as shown by the image 113 in FIG. 6B.

The force output 96 provided by the change in kinematic position information versus actual position information may be useful for a variety of different applications. For example, the force output 96 may be forwarded to the vision cart 80, which in turn may generate instructions for the surgeon console 30 to create haptic feedback to the surgeon S so that the surgeon is provided positive feedback of the existence of force. In addition, in accordance with an embodiment and as is described above with reference to FIG. 6, the force output 96 may be utilized to generate an image representing force applied to the end effector. For example, by displaying the diagram at the B portion of FIG. 6, a representation of force applied on the end effector is provided. That is, providing the visual image of where the end effector would be absent force (i.e., the dotted line 114), and simultaneously displaying the image 113 of the actual location of the end effector, a viewer is provided a visual representation of the force applied to the end effector and the force's effect on the end effector.

In an embodiment, the timing of the position A may be selected by the computer 82. As an example, the position A may be initiated by an event, such as closing of grippers or scissors. Alternatively, the position A may be selected by a user, such as the surgeon S. If desired, the position A may be some combination of an event, information that is available to the image capturing device 50, taken at regular intervals, or any combination of these. The amount of time elapsed before establishing position B may also be determined by time, information available, or may be requested by the surgeon S.

As an example, a surgeon may grasp an organ or other part of the patient's body and may initiate the position A measurement described with reference to FIG. 5. Position B may then be displayed after a particular amount of time, or it may be selected by the surgeon as desired.

The display provided herein, for example, as shown in FIG. 6B, may be useful in displaying visual information about force, regardless of the force input. That is, the display may be used to display force sensed or otherwise provided from sources other than the computer 82. For example, force sensors may be utilized to determine the force on an end effector. This force may be displayed on the display 84 without the need for kinematic information.

FIG. 7 is a flowchart representing steps for displaying force in accordance with an embodiment. At step 700, an end effector begins at position A. At step 702, the position of A is stored. At step 704, the end effector is moved to position B. At step 706, the force applied to the end effector in the movement between position A and B is determined. At step 708, an image representing the actual position of the end effector at position B is displayed. This image may be a video view of the actual end effector, or another suitable image, such as a representation of the end effector. At step 710, an image representing the force being applied is displayed. This may be the dotted line 114 shown in FIG. 6B, or any other appropriate image. As an example, the display in step 710 may display force in a particular direction. In either event, a user is provided a visual indication of force that is applied to the end effector.

The features described herein may be provided in stereoscopic vision so that a user may visualize force in apparent three-dimensional (3-D) form. As can be understood, in a stereoscopic view, force that is transverse to a direction of view is more visual in such a representation. Force that is parallel to a direction of view may not be displayed, and feedback for forces in these directions may be provided by other mechanisms, such as haptic or a different type of screen display.

In addition, in accordance with an embodiment, the force information provided above may be provided with other force information, such as sensed force information, to provide a more detailed analysis of force being applied to an end effector.

Synthetic Model to Show Force

In accordance with an embodiment, instead of the dotted line 114, a synthetic image of an end effector may be displayed as a representation of the actual end effector without load. To this end, modeling data 150 (FIG. 3) may be provided that is associated with the patient side cart 40 and/or the computer 82. The modeling data 150 may be, for example, a two-dimensional (2-D)_or 3-D image of the end effector. In an embodiment, such an end effector is a 3-D model of the end effector, and thus may represent an actual solid model of the end effector. The modeling data 150 may be, for example, CAD data or other 3-D solid model data representing an end effector, such as the end effector 152 shown in FIG. 8. In an embodiment, the 3-D model is manipulatable at each joint so that movements of the end effector 152 may be mimicked by a synthetic model 154 of the end effector. As shown in FIG. 8, the synthetic model 154 may be the same size as the image of the actual end effector 152, but it may be larger or smaller.

The synthetic model 154 may be represented in a number of different ways. As an example, the synthetic model 154 may be a semi-transparent or translucent image of the end effector 152, or it may be a wire diagram image of the end effector. The synthetic model 154 may alternatively be an image that appears solid (i.e., not transparent/translucent), but such a model may make viewing of the actual end effector 152 difficult.

FIG. 9 is a flowchart representing steps for displaying the synthetic model 154 in accordance with an embodiment. In step 900, the end effector 152 begins at position A. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 9, the synthetic model is displayed in accordance with the actual position information (i.e., is displayed at the actual position of the end effector 152) at step 902. Thus, the synthetic model is superimposed over the image of the end effector 152, which may be a video image of the end effecter. For example, as shown in FIG. 8, the synthetic model 154 is translucent and may be displayed over the video image of the actual end effector 152. As another option, the synthetic model 154 may start at a location other than the actual position of the end effector 152.

At step 904, the end effector moves to position B. Optionally, at step 906, kinematic position information is received for the end effector 152. An adjustment for offset is taken at step 908, and then the synthetic model 154 is displayed in step 910.

In accordance with the method in FIG. 9, the synthetic model 154 may continue to be updated so that force information is represented by the synthetic model 154 and its position relative to the end effector 152. In the display shown, the end effector 152 is a video image of the end effector. As such, steps 906-910 may be updated in real time, for both the video image and the synthetic model 154, so that the synthetic model 154 and its position are updated as the end effector 152 is moved. In such continual real time display of the synthetic model 154, step 902 may be substituted with the display of the model at the last location instead of the actual position. In addition, as described above, the offset and the original position A may be determined in accordance with an event or timing or in another manner.

Synthetic Tool to Show a Tool Hidden from a Field of View

As described in the Background section of this document, there are times when a tool may be out of a field of view for the viewer 32. In accordance with an embodiment, a synthetic tool may be utilized in a viewing pane that is outside the field of view. FIG. 10 shows such an embodiment where the field of view 200 includes two tools 202, 204, that are currently linked to master controllers 700 of the surgeon console 30. These two tools 202, 204 are within the field of view 200 of the viewer 32. A third tool 206 is outside the field of view 200.

Although master controllers 700 are well known, a brief description is given here for the benefit of the reader. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 13, a hand held part or wrist gimbal of the master control device 700 is generally indicated by reference numeral 699. Part 699 has an articulated arm portion including a plurality of members or links 702 connected together by pivotal connections or joints 704. The surgeon grips the part 699 by positioning his or her thumb and index finger over a pincher formation 706. The surgeon's thumb and index finger are typically held on the pincher formation 706 by straps (not shown) threaded through slots 710. When the pincher formation 706 is squeezed between the thumb and index finger, the fingers or end effector elements of the end effector 66 close. When the thumb and index finger are moved apart the fingers of the end effector 66 move apart in sympathy with the moving apart of the pincher formation 706. The joints of the part 699 are operatively connected to actuators, e.g., electric motors, or the like, to provide for, e.g., force feedback, gravity compensation, and/or the like. Such a system is described in greater detail in U.S. Pat. No. 7,155,315. Furthermore, appropriately positioned sensors, e.g., encoders, or potentiometers, or the like, are positioned on each joint 704 of the part 699, so as to enable joint positions of the part 699 to be determined by the control system.

In accordance with an embodiment, instruments (e.g., tools) that are outside the field of view 200, such as the tool 206 above, are displayed within a viewing pane 208 that is outside and borders the field of view 200 image. Using a view panel in this manner is sometimes called image mosaicing, which is known and taught by, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 7,194,118 (filed Nov. 10, 2000) and U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. US 2008/0065109 A1 (filed Jun. 13, 2007) (e.g., FIG. 29F and associated text).

In accordance with an embodiment, a synthetic tool is utilized to display the location of the tool 206 that is outside the field of view 200 and in the viewing pane 208. The synthetic tool may be a 3-D model of the tool, and may be oriented consistent with the orientation of the tool. Thus, the tool 206 may be recognized by a surgeon S so that the surgeon may know that the tool is available or so that the surgeon may release one of the tools 202, 204 that are in the field of view 200 and grab the tool corresponding to the synthetic tool image 206 that is in the viewing pane 208. In an embodiment, the surgeon S may grab this additional tool utilizing the alignment features described above.

Synthetic Tool Image at Actual Location of End Effector

In accordance with another embodiment, a synthetic tool image may be displayed over the actual location of a tool. As an illustrative example, this feature permits a surgeon S to follow the tool even when the tool is within the endoscopic field of view but is out of sight, for instance when the tool is behind an organ or is covered by blood.

FIG. 11 is a flowchart showing steps for displaying a synthetic tool at the actual location of a tool in accordance with an embodiment. Beginning at step 1100, the tool is at position A. At step 1102, the synthetic model is optionally displayed over the image of the actual tool, which may be, for example, live video of the tool. At step 1104, the tools move to position B. Kinematic position information is received at step 1106, and an adjustment for offset, as described above, is taken in step 1108. At step 1110, the synthetic tool is displayed at to the kinematically adjusted position of the tool.

Utilizing the method of FIG. 11, the movements of the synthetic tool can match the movements of a tool, and the synthetic tool may be superimposed over the actual tool. Preferably, the movement of the synthetic tool is updated in real time so that the movement of the synthetic tool closely matches the movement of the actual tool. As described above, although kinetic position information typically does not provide an accurate position of a tool in space, a change in position is relatively accurate. Thus, by utilizing the synthetic tool described with reference to FIG. 11, the position of a tool can be followed fairly accurately, even when video or other position information for the tool is lost. For example, an end effector within an endoscope's field of view may be in a pool of blood, behind an organ, and/or obscured by cauterization smoke. In such instances, the synthetic tool may provide a surgeon with visual feedback information regarding the location and orientation of the tool. Further, if applied to two tools, the relative positions of the tools with reference to each other may be shown to the surgeon, even if both tools are obscured from endoscopic view.

If desired, as shown with optional step 1109, if the actual tool image is visible, then step 1109 can branch to step 1100, the process can start again, and no display of the synthetic tool may be provided (in this loop, position A is reset as the current position of the tool, and position B is to be the next position of the tool). In contrast, if the tool is not visible, then the synthetic tool may be displayed at step 1110. Utilizing this option, if image information is not available, the synthetic tool may instead provide a visual representation of the tool, and thus the surgeon is provided visual information, either actual or synthetic, regarding the position of the tool at all times. The process may continue to loop back, causing alternative displays of a synthetic representation of the tool and an image, such as video, of the tool, as needed. As with previous embodiments, this synthetic tool for use in the method of FIG. 11 may be a 3-D model of the tool, or it may be a line drawing of the tool or broken lines representing portions of the tool, or any other representation of the tool.

3-D Pointer

As described in the Background section of this document, conventional telesurgical systems provide only limited information at the user interface provided to a surgeon via the viewer 32. Often, additional information may be provided on a secondary user interface, such as a display that is separate from the viewer.

In accordance with an embodiment, the surgeon S may release control of one of the end effectors and enable control of a 3-D pointing tool. The surgeon S, for example, may control the 3-D pointing tool with one of the master controls and may use the pointing tool to select user interface items. The 3-D pointing tool may be used, for example, to select items, other than an image in the field of view from the image capturing device 50, for view within a user interface window pane.

For example, in the viewing pane 300 shown in FIG. 12, the surgeon is utilizing two end effectors 302, 304. In accordance with an embodiment, when the surgeon releases control of one of the end effectors, for example, the end effector 302, the master manipulator that has been released is moved away from the end effector 302, and a pointing device 306 is shown in the viewing pane representing the location of the master manipulator. The pointing device 306 may be, for example, a 2-D or 3-D icon, but in an embodiment is 3-D. Also, in an embodiment, the pointing device 306 is generated from modeling information, such as the modeling data 150, so that it can represent a version of a synthetic tool. The synthetic tool may be much smaller than a view of an actual tool in the viewer. In an embodiment, one or more user interface selection devices, such as a drop-down menu bar 308, such may be provided permitting the surgeon S to select, using the pointing device 306, additional screens, additional features, or other items.

In an embodiment, when the surgeon is utilizing the pointing device 306, movement of the tools is disabled. A warning signal or other indicator may be provided to show that the pointing device is being utilized and that the tools are not movable.

Utilizing the pointing device 306, a surgeon may be provided a larger number of options within the viewing pane 300, and can access these options without having to remove his or her head from the viewer 32. As such, the need for the surgeon to access a secondary user interface is diminished.

Other variations are within the spirit of the present invention. Thus, while the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative constructions, a certain illustrated embodiment thereof is shown in the drawings and has been described above in detail. It should be understood, however, that there is no intention to limit the invention to the specific form or forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, alternative constructions, and equivalents falling within the spirit and scope of the invention, as defined in the appended claims.

All references, including publications, patent applications, and patents, cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.

The use of the terms “a” and “an” and “the” and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) are to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms “comprising,” “having,” “including,” and “containing” are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning “including, but not limited to,”) unless otherwise noted. The term “connected” is to be construed as partly or wholly contained within, attached to, or joined together, even if there is something intervening. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., “such as”) provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate embodiments of the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.

Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.