Abstract

In minimally invasive surgery, surgeons are deprived of direct contact with the patient’s tissue. All manipulation, including diagnostic palpation, is carried out via long and slender instruments, inserted through small trocars inserted in the skin. Due to poor mechanical characteristics, such as internal friction, backlash, and non-linear force transmission functions, current instruments allow only marginal force feedback. Consequently, surgeons lack a major source of vital information, resulting in reduced safety and grasping forces far greater than necessary. Previous research lead to the design of a 10mm-trocar grasper with low friction and an outstanding force transmission characteristic. The present study was conducted to develop this prototype into a clinically applicable instrument which can be used in 5mm-trocar therapy, by redesigning the mechanism while maintaining the excellent mechanical characteristics. This resulted in a clinical prototype, still according the patented rolling link design but in a different embodiment, now also matching the additional specifications. Mechanical testing showed that the mechanical efficiency of the 5mm-trocar version is as high as in the original version. The 5-mm-version will now be used for further optimization and clinical testing.

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