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Miniature in vivo robot for minimally invasive small volume procedure with additional advanced subsystem design for the future

Thomas Patrick Frederick, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Advances in surgical technologies have enabled surgical procedures to become less traumatic on the patient. Many surgeries have transitioned away from an open method towards a less invasive laparoscopic approach that requires one or more small incisions. This transition has been driven by the advancement of knowledge and tools available to today’s surgeons. Laparoscopic technique benefits the patients through improved recovery time, less scarring, and less pain. However, it has its own drawbacks, largely manipulation and visualization restrictions placed on the surgeons. Surgeons train for years to master these specialized skills, but that does not mean that they cannot be improved upon. The application of robotic technology benefits the surgeon by improving both manipulation and visualization. Large surgical robots, such as the da Vinci® Surgical System, represent the state of the art FDA certified robotic surgical tools. However, the size, cost, and availability of these systems make their adoption and use very restricted. Miniature in vivo surgical robots that are portable, cost effective, and scalable represent the future of surgical robotics. This class of robot is made up of one or more arms that are held primarily within the insufflated abdominal cavity. Cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) is a routine abdominal laparoscopic procedure. The functional requirements used in removal of the gallbladder, such as high precision stretching and dissecting, are common tasks in other, more complicated, abdominal procedures such as colectomy. To understand how a surgical robot would be designed to meet these requirements, a functional decomposition of a cholecystectomy was performed. This analysis provided much needed insight into the necessary architecture components for a miniature surgical robot. The design and benefits of this robot are discussed. This robot represents a paradigm shift in how miniature surgical robots are powered and designed and is a step towards in vivo robots that will bring the benefits of minimally invasive surgery to more patients. In addition to a full surgical robot designed for cholecystectomy procedures, additional subsystems with applications in future robots have been developed. Specifically, a novel four degree of freedom differential joint and an end-effector interface for a new generation of robots were developed. These subsystems allow future designs to be stronger, faster, and more modular.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering|Medicine|Robotics

Recommended Citation

Frederick, Thomas Patrick, "Miniature in vivo robot for minimally invasive small volume procedure with additional advanced subsystem design for the future" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10141699.