Flexible Instrument with Pre-curved Elements for Surgical Tools


Vanderbilt researchers have developed a novel system for allowing surgical instruments to navigate around tighter corners and access difficult-to-reach areas in the body. This system uses pre-curved elastic elements added on to the existing instrument. Current surgical instruments are manufactured in a straight-line configuration, which means they must bend in order to reach around obstructions in surgery. By adding pre-curved sections, some of the bending is already accomplished, allowing the instrument to bend around tighter corners.

Addressed Need

  • Current surgical instruments cannot reach every place in the body, resulting in inoperable locations or more invasive surgery techniques
  • Some minimally invasive surgeries are limited by the degrees of freedom of the surgical instruments
  • Improvement of robotic surgical instruments is a key step in the advancement of minimally invasive surgery techniques

Technology Description

The key new idea in this invention is the idea of adding pre-curved elastic elements to surgical instruments. This pre-curvature can be applied to the structural or actuation elements of the surgical device. Pre-curving the structure allows the surgical instrument or robot to navigate through winding lumens or cavities. Adding a pre-curved element to the actuation area of the instrument provides additional degrees of freedom of movement and more control over the instrument’s behavior. This idea applies to a wide variety of tools, including standard endoscopes, robotic endoscopes, and multi-backbone continuum robots.

Unique Properties and Applications

  • Can be used in conjunction with traditional tendons
  • Can be applied to a wide variety of surgical tools
  • Specific surgical applications include:
  • Retroflexed endoscopy, in which the endoscope must turn through an angle between 90 and 360 degrees
  • Peroral endoscopic myotomy, in which the endoscope must enter through the stomach and operate on the muscle through which the endoscope entered the stomach cavity

Intellectual Property Status

Licensing Contact

Ashok Choudhury

Tech ID: