Articulated minimally invasive surgical instrument based on compliant mechanism
In minimally invasive surgery, instruments are inserted from the exterior of the patient’s body into the surgical field inside the body through the minimum incision, resulting in limited visibility, accessibility, and dexterity. To address this problem, surgical instruments with articulated joints and multiple degrees of freedom have been developed. The articulations in currently available surgical instruments use mainly wire or link mechanisms. These mechanisms are generally robust and reliable, but the miniaturization of the mechanical parts required often results in problems with size, weight, durability, mechanical play, sterilization, and assembly costs.
We thus introduced a compliant mechanism to a laparoscopic surgical instrument with multiple degrees of freedom at the tip. To show the feasibility of the concept, we developed a prototype with two degrees of freedom articulated surgical instruments that can perform the grasping and bending movements. The developed prototype is roughly the same size of the conventional laparoscopic instrument, within the diameter of 4 mm. The elastic parts were fabricated by Ni-Ti alloy and SK-85M, rigid parts ware fabricated by stainless steel, covered by 3D- printed ABS resin. The prototype was designed using iterative finite element method analysis, and has a minimal number of mechanical parts.
The prototype showed hysteresis in grasping movement presumably due to the friction; however, the prototype showed promising mechanical characteristics and was fully functional in two degrees of freedom. In addition, the prototype was capable to exert over 15 N grasping that is sufficient for the general laparoscopic procedure. The evaluation tests thus positively showed the concept of the proposed mechanism.
The prototype showed promising characteristics in the given mechanical evaluation experiments. Use of a compliant mechanism such as in our prototype may contribute to the advancement of surgical instruments in terms of simplicity, size, weight, dexterity, and affordability.
KeywordsMinimally invasive surgery Articulated surgical instrument Compliant mechanism Robotic surgery
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