Multipurpose surgical robot as a laparoscope assistant

Carl A. Nelson, Xiaoli Zhang, Bhavin C. Shah, Matthew R. Goede, Dmitry Oleynikov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background This study demonstrates the effectiveness of a new, compact surgical robot at improving laparoscope guidance. Currently, the assistant guiding the laparoscope camera tends to be less experienced and requires physicaland verbal direction from the surgeon. Human guidance has disadvantages of fatigue and shakiness leading to inconsistency in the field of view. This study investigates whether replacing the assistant with a compact robot can improve the stability of the surgeon's field of view and also reduce crowding at the operating table. Methods A compact robot based on a bevel-geared "spherical mechanism" with 4 degrees of freedom and capable of full dexterity through a 15-mm port was designed and built. The robot was mounted on the standard railing of the operating table and used to manipulate a laparoscope through a supraumbilical port in a porcine model via a joystick controlled externally by a surgeon. The process was videotaped externally via digital video recorder and internally via laparoscope. Robot position data were alsorecorded within the robot's motion control software. Results The robot effectively manipulated the laparoscope in all directions to provide a clear and consistent view of liver, small intestine, and spleen. Its range of motion was commensurate with typical motions executed by a humanassistant and was well controlled with the joystick. Conclusions Qualitative analysis of the video suggested that this method of laparoscope guidance provides highly stable imaging during laparoscopic surgery,which was confirmed by robot position data. Because the robot was table-mounted and compact in design, it increased standingroom around the operation table and did not interfere with the workspace of other surgical instruments. The study results also suggest that this robotic method maybe combined with flexible endoscopes for highly dexterous visualization with more degrees of freedom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1528-1532
Number of pages5
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Camera assistant
  • Laparoscope
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Robot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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