Drilling Simulator Prototype

SUMMARY: Orthopedic drilling is a basic skill that requires high levels of dexterity and expertise from the surgeon. It is a skill that requires surgeons to be sensitive to minute haptic (touch feedback) sensations that provide information about the depth and quality of drilling. Inefficient drilling can be a source of avoidable errors that may lead to adverse events. This work evaluated the feasibility of using visiohaptic virtual reality simulations for training surgeons in this multimodal skill.

METHODS: A prototype drilling simulation interfaced a Phantom Desktop joystick with a virtual reality environment using openHL and openGL libraries. Using volumetric rendering, a dynamic surface mesh was created in real-time to respond to the simulated drilling action. In addition to software simulation, the haptic device was modified with a weighted surgical drill. The simulator was tested with senior surgeons, residents and medical students for validation purposes.

CONCLUSIONS: Through the multi-tiered testing strategy it was shown that the simulator was able to produce a learning effect that transfers to real-world drilling. Further, objective measures of surgical performance were found to be able to differentiate between experts and novices.

ROLE: Researcher, Application Developer

STATUS: Completed (2008)



  • [JOURNAL ARTICLE] Vankipuram M, Kahol K, McLaren A, Panchanathan S, “A Virtual Reality Simulator for Orthopedic Basic Skills: A Design and Validation Study”, J Biomedical Informatics, (2010); 43(5): 661–8. [Download PDF]
  • [THESIS] Vankipuram M, “Haptic Rendering of Volumetric Data through Perceptual Parameterization”, Arizona State University, (2008); Submitted for completion of M.S. Computer Science degree. [Download PDF]
  • [POSTER] Vankipuram M, McLaren A, Kauvar L, Panchanathan S, Kahol K, “Haptic Virtual Reality Simulator to Promote and Measure Haptic Differentiation Skill”, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, (2007).
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