Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Engineering Science


Biomedical Engineering


Dr. Michael Naish


Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death, by cancer. The usual treatment is surgical resection of tumours. However, patients who are weak or have poor pulmonary function are deemed unfit for surgery. For these patients, a minimally-invasive approach is desired. A major problem associated with minimally-invasive approaches is tumour localization in real time and accurate measurement of tool--tissue forces.

This thesis describes the design, analysis, manufacturing and validation of a minimally-invasive instrument for tumour localization, named Palpatron. The instrument has an end effector that is able to support two previously designed jaws, one containing an ultrasound sensor and the other a tactile sensor. The jaws can move with two degrees of freedom to palpate tissue and rotate about the central axis of the instrument. The Palpatron has uncoupled jaw motion that allows for optimal alignment of sensors to improve data acquisition. The instrument can be easily assembled and disassembled allowing it to be cleaned and sterilized. The mechanism is articulated using push rods, each actuated by a motor. A semi-automatic control system was created for palpation. It is composed of a microcontroller that controls four motors via serial communication. In addition, the Palpatron has the ability to prevent tissue damage by measuring tool--tissue forces.

Finite element analysis was used to guide material selection for designed components. Grade 5 titanium was selected for end effector links to provide a factor of safety of 1.2 against yielding under a 10 N point load at the tip of a jaw. The design was fabricated and validated by conducting experiments to test articulation and load carrying capacity. An 8-N force was applied to the instrument, which was successfully supported. The semi-automatic control system was used to perform basic maneuvering tasks to verify jaw motion capabilities. With positive testing results, the Palpatron forms the next step towards a comprehensive robotic-assisted palpation technology.