Axially rigid steerable needle with compliant active tip control

M. de Vries*, J. Sikorski, S. Misra, J. J. van den Dobbelsteen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


Steerable instruments allow for precise access to deeply-seated targets while sparing sensitive tissues and avoiding anatomical structures. In this study we present a novel omnidirectional steerable instrument for prostate high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy (BT). The instrument utilizes a needle with internal compliant mechanism, which enables distal tip steering through proximal instrument bending while retaining high axial and flexural rigidity. Finite element analysis evaluated the design and the prototype was validated in experiments involving tissue simulants and ex-vivo bovine tissue. Ultrasound (US) images were used to provide visualization and shape-reconstruction of the instrument during the insertions. In the experiments lateral tip steering up to 20 mm was found. Manually controlled active needle tip steering in inhomogeneous tissue simulants and ex-vivo tissue resulted in mean targeting errors of 1.4 mm and 2 mm in 3D position, respectively. The experiments show that steering response of the instrument is history-independent. The results indicate that the endpoint accuracy of the steerable instrument is similar to that of the conventional rigid HDR BT needle while adding the ability to steer along curved paths. Due to the design of the steerable needle sufficient axial and flexural rigidity is preserved to enable puncturing and path control within various heterogeneous tissues. The developed instrument has the potential to overcome problems currently unavoidable with conventional instruments, such as pubic arch interference in HDR BT, without major changes to the clinical workflow.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0261089
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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