Anthropomorphic surgical system for soft tissue robot-assisted surgery

Research output: Other contributionPhD thesis (not Bristol)


Over the past century, abdominal surgery has seen a rapid transition from open procedures to less invasive methods such as laparoscopy and robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery (R-A MIS). These procedures have significantly decreased blood loss, postoperative morbidity and length of hospital stay in comparison with open surgery. R-A MIS has offered refined accuracy and more ergonomic instruments for surgeons, further minimising trauma to the patient. This thesis aims to investigate, design and prototype a novel system for R-A MIS that will provide more natural and intuitive manipulation of soft tissues and, at the same time, increase the surgeon's dexterity. The thesis reviews related work on surgical systems and discusses the requirements for designing surgical instrumentation. From the background research conducted in this thesis, it is clear that training surgeons in MIS procedures is becoming increasingly long and arduous. Furthermore, most available systems adopt a design similar to conventional laparoscopic instruments or focus on different techniques with debatable benefits. The system proposed in this thesis not only aims to reduce the training time for surgeons but also to improve the ergonomics of the procedure. In order to achieve this, a survey was conducted among surgeons, regarding their opinions on surgical training, surgical systems, how satisfied they are with them and how easy they are to use. A concept for MIS robotic instrumentation was then developed and a series of focus group meetings with surgeons were run to discuss it. The proposed system, named microAngelo, is an anthropomorphic master-slave system that comprises a three-digit miniature hand that can be controlled using the master, a three-digit sensory exoskeleton. While multi-fingered robotic hands have been developed for decades, none have been used for surgical operations. As the system has a human centred design, its relation to the human hand is discussed. Prototypes of both the master and the slave have been developed and their design and mechanisms is demonstrated. The accuracy and repeatability of the master as well as the accuracy and force capabilities of the slave are tested and discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages234
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2016


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