Incisionless Surgery with Continuum Reconfigurable Parallel Robots

VISE Project Vault - Patrick Anderson talks about his work with a multi-needle robot

Is it possible to diagnose and treat lung diseases without making a single incision in the patient, using only needles? We are creating a brand new type of surgical robot with this goal in mind. Our robot consists of multiple highly flexible needles that are inserted into the chest cavity through the ribs. These needles are only 1-2mm in diameter, so this insertion does not require incisions or sutures—they are no more invasive than getting a shot at the doctor’s office. We then connect the needles together inside the body using a wire loop called a snare; by doing so, we assemble a flexible, controllable structure that can be moved around inside the chest cavity. The clinician sits at a console and uses a haptic device to control the tip of the structure, visually inspecting the chest cavity and then aiming it at a target. Mathematical models calculate where the robot arms outside the body need to move in order to control the tip of the flexible structure. The clinician only needs to think about where he/she wants to aim the needle; the robots perform the motions needed to accomplish the desired therapy tool motion. This continuum parallel robot can also be reconfigured by changing the grasp location or adding more snare needles. Reconfiguration changes the stiffness and dexterity properties of the robot on the fly.