In the work of this doctoral dissertation a new resonator sensor technique, first presented in 1989, has been further developed and evaluated with focus on technical characteristics and applications within the medical field.
In a first part a catheter-type tactile sensor using the resonator sensor technique was evaluated in a silicone model and applied to human prostate in vitro. The main finding was that different histological compositions of prostate tissue correlated with the frequency shift, .fS, of the resonator sensor and that the common property was the hardness of the tissue. The results indicated that hardness of the prostate tissue, and maybe hardness of human tissue in general, can be expressed according to a cone penetration standard (DIN ISO 2137) and that the hardness can be measured with this tactile sensor system. The tissue hardness application for the resonator sensor technique has to be further developed and evaluated in a larger study. The study also produced results that has led to the basic understanding of the resonator sensor system. One important result was that .fS of the sensor system was related to the contact area between sensor and sample. This indicated that the resonance sensor could be used for contact area measurement.
In a second part, containing three studies, the area-sensing capability from the first study was utilised in the development and evaluation of the applanation resonator sensor (ARS) for measurement of intraocular pressure (IOP). For the purpose of evaluating IOP-tonometers, an in vitro pig-eye model was developed, and it was shown that a saline column connected to the vitreous chamber could be used successfully to induce variations in IOP.
A ARS sensor with a flat contact surface was applied onto the cornea with constant force and .fS was measured. A mathematical model based on the Imbert-Fick law and the assumption that .fS was linearly related to contact area was proposed and verified with a convincing result. IOP measured with the ARS correlated well (r=0.92, n=360) with the IOP elicited by a saline column.
The ARS in a constant-force arrangement was evaluated on healthy human subjects in vivo. The results verified the sensor principle but revealed a nonnegligible source of error in off-centre positioning between the sensor and cornea. The sensor probe was redesigned and evaluated in the in vitro model. The new probe, with a spherical contact surface against the eye reduced the sensitivity to off-centre positioning. It was also shown that a .fS normalisation procedure could reduce the between-eye differences.
The ARS method for IOP measurement was further developed using combined continuous force and area measurement during the dynamic phase when the sensor initially contacts the cornea. A force sensor was included with the resonator sensor in one probe. Evaluation was performed with the in vitro pig-eye model. The hypothesis was that the IOP could be deduced from the differential change of force and area during that phase. The study showed good accuracy and good reproducibility with a correlation of r=0.994 (n=414) between measured pressure in the vitreous chamber and IOP according to the ARS. Measurement time was short, 77 ms after initial contact. Problems with inter-eye differences and low resolution at high pressures were reduced. The ARS method is the first to combine simultaneous, continuous sampling of both parameters included in the applanation principle. Consequently, there is a potential for reducing errors in the clinical IOP tonometry.