Keyword: medical robotics
Smaller tools for robotic surgery will lead to reduced scarring and recovery times after surgery. However, the small-sized parts required for those tools are difficult to fabricate using conventional processes. In this paper, we demonstrate the fabrication of two potential tools for robotic surgery using a layered manufacturing process based on photolithography of carbon nanotube composite materials. Both tools fit into a cylinder with a 3 mm diameter, and both contain features with size on the order of 10 micrometers.
Using integrated manufacturing processes with soft constituent materials, a new paradigm of soft, smart surgical devices can be realized to drastically reduce complication risks and enable safer procedures. We have designed, prototyped, and tested a ‘soft’, atraumatic, deployable surgical grasper that can be used during robolaparoscopic surgery to provide a safe, compliant intermediary between delicate organs and the sharp, rigid robotic forceps that are used to grasp and manipulate these organs on an ad-hoc basis. Multi-jointed, conformable fingers with embedded pressure sensors can conform to complicated geometry, thereby distributing forces and providing an inherently safe means of manipulating and retracting anatomy.
Our research involves the development of robotic tools for minimally invasive surgery. Through this work, we are bringing the field of robotics and the practice of medical care one step closer together, with the long-term goal of improving healthcare and the human condition. Our paper describes the design of a snake-like linkage as part of a more comprehensive surgical robot system and presents a model for its motion. We show through modeling and experiments how the linkage system operates and how the components of the surgical system interact to achieve functionality relevant to minimally invasive surgical tasks.