Hybrid snake robot for minimally invasive intervention


The devices and systems described herein represent significant improvements over earlier approaches. The hybrid snake robot is comprised of a highly articulated robotic probe and a concentric tube robot. The probe is made of two separate, outer and an inner mechanisms-each composed of super elastic tubes which are conjoint via rigid tubular links. This structure enables the probe to follow a tortuous path three dimensions, making one mechanism stiff while extending the other mechanism.
As a result, the system can operate a stiff sheath while the steerable cannula can enhance tip dexterity. This allows the hybrid snake system to reach tight spaces and perform delicate and complex procedures deep within tissues like the heart, lungs, brain and abdominal organs.

This technology offers a number of advantages over current heart repair approaches:
1. It provides both tip dexterity and stiffness that are imperative in endoscopic procedures; this cannot be achieved by the single use of any two robots.
2. The device is suitable for one port entry surgical procedures, leaving minimal scarring and reducing post operative complications rate
3. Elements of the design permit a variety of curves, which in turn enable the snake robot to operate in confined spaces, accessing anatomical targets that conventional tools cannot reach.
4. Operation of the snake robot does not require a large body cavity for operating and can be deployed inside virtual spaces.

This novel technology brings endoscopic surgical procedures to a new level, where challenges like reaching and operating in difficult anatomical places can be overcome by a relatively simple solution.


Minimally invasive procedures are increasingly becoming the gold standard of care in most surgical fields of medicine. They enable performing procedures with minimal amounts of blood loss, less pain, fewer and smaller scars, and most importantly, faster recovery, with less possible complications when compared to open surgery.
In most minimally invasive procedures (laparoscopy, endoscopy) several incisions of about half inch long are made. These are used to insert visual devices as well as surgical instruments.
There is broad consensus that the future of minimally invasive surgery lays within single port access surgery, hence the recently growing trend, of using robots for single port operations. During operations complex manipulation tasks such as dissecting and retracting require simultaneous tip dexterity and tip stiffness. Unfortunately, surgical robots today, exhibit many problems such as high stiffness and low dexterity or high dexterity and low stiffness.
The technology covered by this invention provides a device that can reduce the number of incisions into a single port of entry, provide simultaneous high tip stiffness as well increased dexterity.

Additional Information:


Toward a Hybrid Snake Robot for Single Port Surgery. Mahvash M, Zenati M.
33rd Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS Sept 2011.

Intellectual Property Status: Patent(s) Pending