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.
- 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
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
- Published US patent application US20160016319A1
- Additional information on the “Bio-Inspired Robots“ research program and technology videos: http://research.vuse.vanderbilt.edu/MEDlab/research/bio-inspired-robots
- Related Technology: http://cttc.co/technologies/tentacle-robots-access-tight-spaces-manufacturing-and-medical-applications