Team AVR - Control, Vision and Robotics Lab

UNILiverS - Ultrasonic Nonlinear Indenter for Liver Surgery

From Team AVR - Control, Vision and Robotics Lab
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(Ultrasonic Nonlinear Indenter for Liver Surgery), IHU collaborative project (2017-2020, Budget: 297.5k€)


Recent technological advances have greatly contributed to the fast growth of both image-guided and Computer-Assisted Surgery (CAS). Image guidance and CAS have become highly significant topics in both clinical and basic science research. In spite of recent progresses in 3D anatomical modelling, there is still a critical lack of knowledge of mechanical properties in vivo to improve the realism of the per-operative simulators dedicated to liver surgery. Mapping accurately the in vivo nonlinear mechanical properties of healthy as well as pathological organs is one of the leading challenges in CAS.

Furthermore, for liver surgery, the estimation of the portal venous pressure is one of the key parameters in the evaluation of the hepatic functions after liver tumor resection. While this is an important indicator prior to portal vein embolization in order to reduce the risk of liver failure, its measurement remains local and invasive. Being directly influenced by the blood pressure, the nonlinear mechanical properties of the hepatic tissue are thought to be first-order surrogates for portal venous pressure and thus for the assessment of liver function. Measuring locally and non-invasively the nonlinear mechanical properties of hepatic tissue would allow providing new information, specifically after liver tumor resection.

In the 3-years (2017-2020) UNILiverS project (Ultrasonic Nonlinear Indenter for Liver Surgery), financed by the IHU Strasbourg (Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire de Strasbourg, Institute of Image Guided Surgery), we develop mechanical-imaging methods for the quantification of the non-linear mechanical properties of the hepatic tissue. Relying on innovative ultrasound-based indentation probes, by giving a posteriori unprecedented in vivo mechanical parameters, our approaches first allow improving the realism of numerical models used per-operatively for simulation in augmented-realism surgery. The simulations are corrected in real-time by the investigations of the large deformations. By providing local estimation of unprecedented parameters, this project aims in a second step at providing a new surrogate for hepatic portal venous pressure and thus in novel biomarkers for the follow-up of hepatic resections. By providing these novel tools, this project have a high impact on the fields of surgical simulation and hepatic surgery.

The UNILiverS project is a collaboration between researchers, surgeons and engineers from ICube (AVR and MMB teams) and the IHU.


  • Simon Chatelin (Primary Investigator, CR1 CNRS researcher)
  • Jonathan Vappou (CR1 CNRS researcher)
  • Laurent Barbé (Unistra research engineer)
  • Ajeethan Arulrajah (PhD student)
  • Yves Rémond (Professor, Unistra)
  • Daniel George (Assistant and Associate Professor, Unistra)
  • Patrick Pessaux (PU-PH Unistra, IHU)
  • Céline Giraudeau (IHU research engineer)