Robot-assisted minimally invasive surgical systems enable procedures with reduced pain, recovery time, and scarring compared to traditional surgery. While these improvements benefit a large number of patients, safe access to diseased sites is not always possible for specialized patient groups, including pediatric patients, due to their anatomical differences. We propose a patient-specific design paradigm that leverages the surgeon’s expertise to design and fabricate robots based on preoperative medical images. The components of the patient-specific robot design process are a virtual reality design interface enabling the surgeon to design patient-specific tools, 3-D printing of these tools with a biodegradable polyester, and an actuation and control system for deployment. The designed robot is a concentric tube robot, a type of continuum robot constructed from precurved, elastic, nesting tubes. We demonstrate the overall patient-specific design workflow, from preoperative images to physical implementation, for an example clinical scenario: nonlinear renal access to a pediatric kidney. We also measure the system’s behavior as it is deployed through real and artificial tissue. System integration and successful benchtop experiments in ex vivo liver and in a phantom patient model demonstrate the feasibility of using a patient-specific design workflow to plan, fabricate, and deploy personalized, flexible continuum robots.
Annals of Biomedical Engineering – Springer Journals
Published: May 31, 2018
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