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Advancements in minimally-invasive surgical (M.I.S.) techniques continue to combat the major drawbacks of open surgery. Lengthy recovery times, increased chance of postoperative infection, and distinct cosmetic remnants are a few of the many issues that implore the engineering community for technological intervention. Conversion of open surgery to minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery has gained popularity in recent years. Laparoscopic surgery consists of the insertion of thin profiled tools and accessories into a gas-inflated abdominal region, eliminating the need for a large incision; however, these procedures have introduced an entirely new set of limitations such as increased duration of surgery, reduction in visibility of the surgical site, and greater dexterity requirements of the surgeon. Accordingly, robotic platform integration has been introduced to the surgical field of medicine and looks to challenge these limitations.
The goal of this thesis is to examine the accumulation of past designs for miniature in vivo robotics and to expand and innovate upon the strengths that each design has to offer. Various novel designs are presented to address numerous limitations of current techniques in miniature in vivo surgical robotics, including the insertion interface, mobility, and dexterity of the robot. This thesis also investigates the contribution to increased wound morbidity by larger, single-incision techniques to further strengthen the case for smaller, multiple incisions.
The JoeyBot prototype design features a 3 degree-of-freedom compact, in-line joint, allowing for a slimmer overall profile of the robot. It is an independently fixated manipulator capable of insertion through a custom prototyped trocar. This is advantageous in that trocars are a proven technology, offering various advantages in comparison to devices such as the GelPort®, used in previous designs. The design also offers increased mobility with independently actuated gross positioning systems. Also presented is an additional design for implementing a 3 degree-of-freedom end-effector wrist joint to increase dexterity in performing complex surgical tasks.