1. Objective of the technology or device
The intended purpose of our device, the Magnetic Internal Mechanism (MIM) camera, is to overcome the ergonomic constraints of laparoscopic surgery and in particular of single port laparoscopy (SPL) by providing a new wired miniature surgical camera with a novel magnetic levitation system. By this innovative approach the number of abdominal access ports would be reduced, since a dedicated access for the camera would not be needed any more.
2. Description of the technology and method of its use or application
Our device is composed of an extra- and an intracorporeal module, which are magnetically linked across the abdominal wall. This magnetic link is tuned precisely thanks to the use of a miniature motor embedded in the camera which also provides additional degrees of freedom.
The intracorporeal module is made up by two main components (i.e. head and tail), linked by a thin elastic flexible joint. The tail component embeds two magnets for anchoring and manual rough translation. The head component incorporates two motorized donut-shaped magnets and a miniaturized vision system at the tip. Magnetic levitation, regulated by internal motors, induces a smooth bending of the robotic head, allowing for a large angular range of motion of the point of view (0°-80°). The device is 100 mm long and 12.7 mm in diameter, thus adequate for insertion into conventional laparoscopic access ports.
3. Preliminary results
Stabilization of the intracavitary components and adhesion to the abdominal wall represent a challenging task in the design of surgical endocavitary robots; thanks to the proposed levitating camera, enhanced stability and maneuverability can be achieved.
Several in vivo procedures have been performed so far; the use of MIM enabled multiple points of views of the surgical field, thus increasing visual information. Surgeon’s dexterity and capabilities are clearly improved with respect to traditional techniques, by using two surgical tools at the same time instead of a laparoscope and a surgical instrument. Camera introduction, magnetic coupling and motion control are extremely intuitive.
4. Conclusions and future directions.
In vivo tests suggest that many procedures can be performed safely with our levitation robotic camera. Enhanced image stability and motion resolution, a wide tilt span (0-80°) without pushing external handle on the abdomen wall or needing needle fixation, have been proved. Use of such a robot in single port or standard multiport laparoscopy could enable reduction of number/size of ancillary trocars, and/or increase the number of working devices that can be employed, thus paving the way for multiple-point-of-view laparoscopy.
Further improvements in the design are still necessary in order to face safety issues and to achieve proper certification for clinical use.