Handheld laparoscopic robotized instrument: progress or challenge?

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Handheld laparoscopic robotized instruments have been developed to combine the advantages of a robotic operation system and conventional laparoscopic instruments. Direct objective standards are needed to quantify surgeons’ skill level and validate the advantages of new instruments. This study describes and objectively evaluates the use of a robotized instrument using a force-sensing test platform.


The test platform consists of 12 rings on a hypersensitive force sensor. Forty volunteers were recruited: the expert group included 20 laparoscopic experts and the novice group included 20 medical students in their 4th year without laparoscopic skills. The baseline of the two groups was identified using a conventional needle holder. Participants then repeated the test with the robotized needle holder after training. The maximum force and impulse of each ring were analyzed for each group. Institutional review board approval is not needed for this study.


Significantly lower maximum force and impulse were observed in the expert group than in the novice group during the baseline test (all P < 0.05). After training, a significant difference remained in maximum force and impulse between the two groups using the robotized needle holder (all P < 0.05). Within each group, there was no difference in maximum force or impulse using the robotized needle holder after training compared to that on using the conventional needle holder (all P > 0.05).


The maximum force and impulse recorded by a test platform can accurately identify participants’ laparoscopic skill level. Six hours’ training can ensure that experts master the use of the robotized needle holder, but this training session is too short for novices to improve their performance with a new instrument. The force-sensing test platform can reflect the suturing characteristics of users based on the skill level and is useful for laparoscopic suture training.

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The authors would like to thank all volunteers in this study and our cooperation group from Harbin Institute of Technology for offering use of the handheld robotized instrument.


This study was supported by the project innovation team of Hubei Province (Grant No. WJ2017C0004) and the Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities (Grant No. 2042017kf0164).

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Correspondence to Zhijiang Du or XingHuan Wang.

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Drs. Jing Feng, Kun Yang, Zhang Zhang, Man Li, XiaoJia Chen, Zhiyuan Yan, Zhijiang Du and XingHuan Wang have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Feng, J., Yang, K., Zhang, Z. et al. Handheld laparoscopic robotized instrument: progress or challenge?. Surg Endosc 34, 719–727 (2020) doi:10.1007/s00464-019-06820-z

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  • Robotized needle holder
  • Force sensor
  • Suture
  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Multiple freedom