Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Dr. Rajni V. Patel

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Mehrdad R. Kermani

Joint Supervisor


Needle insertion and guidance plays an important role in medical procedures such as brachytherapy and biopsy. Flexible needles have the potential to facilitate precise targeting and avoid collisions during medical interventions while reducing trauma to the patient and post-puncture issues. Nevertheless, error introduced during guidance degrades the effectiveness of the planned therapy or diagnosis. Although steering using flexible bevel-tip needles provides great mobility and dexterity, a major barrier is the complexity of needle-tissue interaction that does not lend itself to intuitive control. To overcome this problem, a robotic system can be employed to perform trajectory planning and tracking by manipulation of the needle base. This research project focuses on a control-theoretic approach and draws on the rich literature from control and systems theory to model needle-tissue interaction and needle flexion and then design a robotics-based strategy for needle insertion/steering. The resulting solutions will directly benefit a wide range of needle-based interventions. The outcome of this computer-assisted approach will not only enable us to perform efficient preoperative trajectory planning, but will also provide more insight into needle-tissue interaction that will be helpful in developing advanced intraoperative algorithms for needle steering. Experimental validation of the proposed methodologies was carried out on a state of-the-art 5-DOF robotic system designed and constructed in-house primarily for prostate brachytherapy. The system is equipped with a Nano43 6-DOF force/torque sensor (ATI Industrial Automation) to measure forces and torques acting on the needle shaft. In our setup, an Aurora electromagnetic tracker (Northern Digital Inc.) is the sensing device used for measuring needle deflection. A multi-threaded application for control, sensor readings, data logging and communication over the ethernet was developed using Microsoft Visual C 2005, MATLAB 2007 and the QuaRC Toolbox (Quanser Inc.). Various artificial phantoms were developed so as to create a realistic medium in terms of elasticity and insertion force ranges; however, they simulated a uniform environment without exhibiting complexities of organic tissues. Experiments were also conducted on beef liver and fresh chicken breast, beef, and ham, to investigate the behavior of a variety biological tissues.

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Biomedical Commons