Design and realization of a master-slave system for reconstructive microsurgery

In this thesis a novel robotic system is proposed, able to assist during reconstructive surgery procedures involving microsurgical techniques, which are becoming more and more common. The number of surgeons capable of performing such techniques manually is limited, causing long waiting lists, as is the case for DIEP breast reconstruction. The demand for reconstructive surgery is expected to increase, whereas the capacity of microsurgeons will remain inadequate.

The proposed robotic solution is based on maintaining work methods and infrastructure in the operating room (OR). An extensive analysis of these conventional methodologies is combined with a review of currently available alternative solutions. This has led to the design of a new master-slave system, called the Micro Surgical Robot (MSR).

Aside from offering improved performance during microsurgery, the MSR design concept is focused on safety, ease-of-use, and cost-effectiveness.

The MSR includes multiple slave manipulators, controlled by an equal number of identical master manipulators. The kinematics of the MSR manipulators is based on the anatomy of a human hand, with 6DOF for positioning and orientating, and 1DOF for actuating a genuine microsurgical instrument held by the slave manipulator. The MSR has been designed modular, so that it can be used in different configurations depending on the level of robotic assistance required. This ranges from one-handed robotic assistance up to multi-person robotic assistance.

The MSR is able to enhance the surgeon’s physical performance, by offering motion scaling and tremor filtration. The design objective is to offer a precision of 30 μm, as opposed to the 100 μm precision that can be achieved conventionally by expert microsurgeons.

The MSR design concept has been translated to a proof-of-concept, consisting of two slave manipulators, mounted on a suspension ring, and two master manipulators. A number of tests have been performed, whereas preliminary results indicate a bidirectional precision at the slave end effector of about 70 μm. Through optimization of the control software, a bidirectional precision down to 30