Transbronchial biopsy catheter enhanced by a multisection continuum robot with follow-the-leader motion

Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2019 Nov;14(11):2021-2029. doi: 10.1007/s11548-019-02017-w. Epub 2019 Jul 9.


Purpose: Current manual catheters for transbronchial biopsy in the lung lack a steering ability, which hampers a physician's ability to reach nodules in the peripheral lung. The objective of this paper is to design and build a multisection robot with a follow-the-leader motion and compare the performance of the conventional catheter and our robotic catheter in the right main and right segmental lobar bronchus.

Methods: A three-section continuum robot with an outer diameter of 3 mm was developed. Each section includes one anchored wire and two driving wires made of stainless steel. Follow-the-leader control is implemented using a joystick for a physician to control the distal section of the robot, while the subsequent two sections follow the controlled distal section.

Results: The robotic catheter deviated from the preplanned approach path by less than the manual catheter did (robotic: [Formula: see text] mm and manual: [Formula: see text] mm), with [Formula: see text]. The average force applied to the wall, producing potential trauma to the wall, was less for the robotic catheter ([Formula: see text] N) than for the manual catheter ([Formula: see text] N), [Formula: see text].

Conclusion: This study demonstrated an improvement in the maneuverability for the robotic catheter. In addition to a greater aptitude for reaching a peripheral area of the lung, these findings suggest that the designated target in a peripheral area can be reached with less trauma to the bronchi wall.

Keywords: Bronchoscopy; Continuum robots; Lung biopsy; Multisection robot; Surgical robotics.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / instrumentation*
  • Bronchoscopy / methods*
  • Catheters*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Robotics / instrumentation*

Grant support