Master's projects

Design and control of a robotically-actuated catheter

Recent technological advancements have significantly improved treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Traditionally, open surgery via sternotomy is performed to gain surgical access to the heart, while a heart-lung machine provides life support. Accessibility is considered to be a major advantage of this procedure, which is at the expense of patient trauma. As an alternative, minimal invasive surgery (MIS) could reduce trauma and enable treatment to high-risk patients who were initially denied surgery. However, limited access, vision and control of the instrument at the treatment location impede the performance of MIS. The clinician often has limited and non-intuitive control over the tip of the instrument by manipulating its base, which is outside the body. Integration of robotically-controlled flexible instruments has the potential to assist the clinician during surgery.

Project: The assignment consists of two parts: The first part is to design and integrate a flexible catheter in an experimental setup. In the second part, a controller is designed and the performance of catheter system is evaluated. The goal of the first part is to develop a catheter system that uses either a combination of user defined catheter materials or an already existing prototype designed by Deam Corporation B.V. The flexible catheter should be actuated by two actuators to enable articulating tip movement in two degrees-of-freedom.

Electro-Magnetic (EM) tracker sensors must be integrated in the catheter tip and base to provide feedback for control. The design must be able to maneuver through complex tubing systems in order to simulate insertion into arteries and veins. Further, the configuration of the flexible shaft of the catheter should not affect the articulating tip motion during insertion. In the final part of the assignment, a feedback-controller using EM-tracking data should be designed in order to provide intuitive catheter tip movement by considering input form the clinician. Note that EM tracking-related activities is provided by the supervisors. Finally, the integrated catheter system must be experimentally evaluated to demonstrate potential in existing and future medical applications.