During the last decades, tactile sensors based on different sensing principles have been developed due to the growing interest in robotics and, mainly, in medical applications. Several technological solutions have been employed to design tactile sensors; in particular, solutions based on microfabrication present several attractive features. Microfabrication technologies allow for developing miniaturized sensors with good performance in terms of metrological properties (e.g., accuracy, sensitivity, low power consumption, and frequency response). Small size and good metrological properties heighten the potential role of tactile sensors in medicine, making them especially attractive to be integrated in smart interfaces and microsurgical tools. This paper provides an overview of microfabricated tactile sensors, focusing on the mean principles of sensing, i.e
., piezoresistive, piezoelectric and capacitive sensors. These sensors are employed for measuring contact properties, in particular force and pressure, in three main medical fields, i.e
., prosthetics and artificial skin, minimal access surgery and smart interfaces for biomechanical analysis. The working principles and the metrological properties of the most promising tactile, microfabricated sensors are analyzed, together with their application in medicine. Finally, the new emerging technologies in these fields are briefly described.
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