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A 4-DOF Robot for Positioning Ultrasound Imaging Catheters

[+] Author Affiliations
Paul M. Loschak, Yaroslav Tenzer, Alperen Degirmenci, Robert D. Howe

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. DETC2015-47693, pp. V05AT08A046; 7 pages
  • ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5A: 39th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, August 2–5, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5712-0
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


In this paper we present the design, fabrication, and testing of a robot for automatically positioning ultrasound imaging catheters. Our system will point ultrasound (US) catheters to provide real-time imaging of anatomical structures and working instruments during minimally invasive surgeries. Manually navigating US catheters is difficult and requires extensive training in order to aim the US imager at desired targets. Therefore, a four DOF robotic system was developed to automatically navigate US imaging catheters for enhanced imaging. A rotational transmission enables three DOF for pitch, yaw, and roll of the imager. This transmission is translated by the fourth DOF. An accuracy analysis was conducted to calculate the maximum allowable joint motion error. Rotational joints must be accurate to within 1.5° and the translational joint must be accurate within 1.4 mm. Motion tests were then conducted to validate the accuracy of the robot. The average resulting errors in positioning of the rotational joints were measured to be 0.28°–0.38° with average measured backlash error 0.44°. Average translational positioning and backlash errors were measured to be significantly lower than the reported accuracy of the position sensor. The resulting joint motion errors were well within the required specifications for accurate robot motion. Such effective navigation of US imaging catheters will enable better visualization in various procedures ranging from cardiac arrhythmia treatment to tumor removal in urological cases.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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