Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Engineering Science


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Dr. Michael Naish


Minimally-invasive surgery (MIS) has brought many benefits to the operating room, however, MIS procedures result in an absence of force feedback, and surgeons cannot as accurately feel the tissue they are working on, or the forces that they are applying. One of the barriers to introducing MIS instruments with force feedback systems is the high cost of manufacturing and assembly. Instruments must also be sterilized before every use, a process that can destroy embedded sensing systems. An instrument that can be disposed of after a single use and produced in bulk at a low cost is desirable. Printed circuit micro-electro-mechanical systems (PCMEMS) is an emerging manufacturing technology that may represent an economically viable method of bulk manufacturing small, single-use medical devices, including surgical graspers. This thesis presents the design and realization of a PCMEMS surgical grasper that can fit within a 5 mm trocar, and can accurately measure forces in 3 axes, over a range of +/-4 N. The designed instrument is the first PCMEMS grasper to feature multi-axis sensing, and has a sensing range twice as large as current PCMEMS devices. Experimental results suggest that the performance of the sensing system is similar to conventionally-manufactured MIS instruments that use capacitive force transducers. The techniques applied in this thesis may be useful for developing a range of PCMEMS devices with capacitive sensors. Improvements to the design of the grasper and sensing system are suggested, and several points are presented to inform the direction of future work related to PCMEMS MIS instruments.