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Articulated Needle

Invention: An improved means to steer a medical needle or cannula on an arbitrary path through tissue. Among other benefits, the invention enables obstacle avoidance (e.g., around bone or delicate tissue), control of both tip position and orientation, and the means to vary the stiffness of the needle during insertion. Introduction: The invention is a solution to a class of medical procedures called percutaneous procedures, in which a practitioner needs to insert a needle along a curved path to either (1) avoid tissue structures, (2) steer the needle tip to compensate for tissue motion/deformation or (3) to generate forces sufficient for puncture at oblique angles. For example, the device allows for more flexibility in the entry point of the needle into the heart as well as increasing reliability in the balloon reaching its target during fetal heart interventions. This invention is also a new solution to the general problem of controlling the shape, or the end point location and/or orientation of a long and thin structure. Features and Benefits: 1) No other mechanism uses the interaction of two or more equally stiff tubes for any control of displacement, orientation, impedance, or vibration 2) No other steerable needle (or catheter) approach allows for additional control of impedance or vibration 3) No other method for controlling long and thin structures can explicitly control shape, impedance, or vibration with actuators only at the end (or base) Applications: As a hand-held or robot-mounted device, the invention can perform needle or cannula insertion in medical applications Multiple tubes can serve as a multiple degree of freedom robotic arm A pair of tubes can act like a robotic finger. Multiple pairs of tubes mounted close to one another can act like a robotic gripper Stage of Development: Prototype available Intellectual Property: Provisional application filed Inventor: Professor Pierre Dupont BU Case #: BU05-30 OTT Contact: Sean Lee Tel: (617) 353-4567 Fax: (617) 353-6141 Email: seanlee@bu.edu