Ovipositor-inspired steerable needle: design and preliminary experimental evaluation

Marta Scali, T.P. Pusch, Paul Breedveld, Dimitra Dodou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Flexible steerable needles have the potential to allow surgeons to reach deep targets inside the human body with higher accuracy than rigid needles do. Furthermore, by maneuvering around critical anatomical structures, steerable needles could limit the risk of tissue damage. However, the design of a thin needle (e.g., diameter under 2 mm) with a multi-direction steering mechanism is challenging. The goal of this paper is to outline the design and experimental evaluation of a biologically inspired needle with a diameter under 2 mm that advances through straight and curved trajectories in a soft substrate without being pushed, without buckling, and without the need of axial rotation. The needle design, inspired by the ovipositor of parasitoid wasps, consisted of seven Nickel Titanium wires and had a total diameter of 1.2 mm. The motion of the needle was tested in gelatin phantoms. Forward motion of the needle was evaluated based on the lag between the actual and the desired insertion depth of the needle. Steering was evaluated based on the radius of curvature of a circle fitted to the needle centerline and on the ratio of the needle deflection from the straight path to the insertion depth. The needle moved forward inside the gelatin with a lag of 0.21 (single wire actuation) and 0.34 (double wire actuation) and achieved a maximum curvature of 0.0184 cm-1and a deflection-to-insertion ratio of 0.0778. The proposed biologically inspired needle design is a relevant step towards the development of thin needles for percutaneous interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number016006
Number of pages17
JournalBioinspiration & Biomimetics: learning from nature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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