Originally Published MDDI April 2002R&D DIGEST

April 1, 2002

2 Min Read
New Software Used to Design Multitask Surgical Minitools

Originally Published MDDI April 2002



Multitask surgical tool will be capable of grasping, cutting, pivoting, and bending around obstructions. (click to enlarge)

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) has become a critical technique for many surgical procedures. Currently available MIS surgical tools, however, have been found to give surgeons limited tactile feedback and dexterity. "The surgeons complain that using the existing tools is like doing surgery with chopsticks," says Mary Frecker, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State University (University Park, PA).

Frecker is leading a project at the univeristy to develop new design software that will aid in designing advanced MIS tools. The group is collaborating with surgeons from the university's College of Medicine to develop new multitask surgical tools, resembling tiny jaws, that can grasp, cut, pivot, and bend around obstructions.

Frecker explains that the software itself is used by the instrument designer, who inputs the force-deflection requirements of the tool tip to the software. But she emphasizes the importance of working with the surgeon. "The force-deflection requirements are developed together with the surgeon."

Frecker worked closely with Randy S. Haluck, MD, director of surgical simulation and minimally invasive surgery at Penn State's Hershey Medical Center, on the combination scissors-grasper instrument. "He helped us decide on what would be a useful combination of instruments, what the geometry requirements are, and in what directions we would like the tool tip to move (i.e., the deflections entered into the design software)." She adds, "We then worked closely with him in refining the exact geometric details of the tool tip design and on the design of the handle. It is critical that the surgeon be involved in the design process so that the resulting design works well and is comfortable and easy to use."

Haluck explains that most existing MIS tools are single-function instruments. They require that the surgeon repeatedly withdraw and reinsert new tools, which can lengthen time in operation and compromise safety.

Frecker explains that the new tool has not yet been used in clinical procedures, but adds, "We are currently building several prototype instruments that will be tested by Dr. Haluck in his laboratory and eventually in the operating room."

Copyright ©2002 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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