Electrical & Computer Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version

Fall 8-5-2014


J. D. Carlson, “Towards Highly-Integrated Stereovideoscopy for in vivo Surgical Robots,” M.S. thesis, Elec. Engr., University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, 2014.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Electrical Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Lance C. Pérez. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2014

Copyright 2014 Jay Carlson


When compared to traditional surgery, laparoscopic procedures result in better patient outcomes: shorter recovery, reduced post-operative pain, and less trauma to incisioned tissue. Unfortunately, laparoscopic procedures require specialized training for surgeons, as these minimally-invasive procedures provide an operating environment that has limited dexterity and limited vision. Advanced surgical robotics platforms can make minimally-invasive techniques safer and easier for the surgeon to complete successfully. The most common type of surgical robotics platforms -- the laparoscopic robots -- accomplish this with multi-degree-of-freedom manipulators that are capable of a diversified set of movements when compared to traditional laparoscopic instruments. Also, these laparoscopic robots allow for advanced kinematic translation techniques that allow the surgeon to focus on the surgical site, while the robot calculates the best possible joint positions to complete any surgical motion. An important component of these systems is the endoscopic system used to transmit a live view of the surgical environment to the surgeon. Coupled with 3D high-definition endoscopic cameras, the entirety of the platform, in effect, eliminates the peculiarities associated with laparoscopic procedures, which allows less-skilled surgeons to complete minimally-invasive surgical procedures quickly and accurately.

A much newer approach to performing minimally-invasive surgery is the idea of using in-vivo surgical robots -- small robots that are inserted directly into the patient through a single, small incision; once inside, an in-vivo robot can perform surgery at arbitrary positions, with a much wider range of motion. While laparoscopic robots can harness traditional endoscopic video solutions, these in-vivo robots require a fundamentally different video solution that is as flexible as possible and free of bulky cables or fiber optics. This requires a miniaturized videoscopy system that incorporates an image sensor with a transceiver; because of severe size constraints, this system should be deeply embedded into the robotics platform.

Here, early results are presented from the integration of a miniature stereoscopic camera into an in-vivo surgical robotics platform. A 26mm X 24mm stereo camera was designed and manufactured. The proposed device features USB connectivity and 1280 X 720 resolution at 30 fps. Resolution testing indicates the device performs much better than similarly-priced analog cameras. Suitability of the platform for 3D computer vision tasks -- including stereo reconstruction -- is examined. The platform was also tested in a living porcine model at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Results from this experiment suggest that while the platform performs well in controlled, static environments, further work is required to obtain usable results in true surgeries.

Concluding, several ideas for improvement are presented, along with a discussion of core challenges associated with the platform.

Adviser: Lance C. Pérez

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