Accurate needle placement in deep-seated liver tumours can be difficult. In this work, we disclose two new manually controlled steerable needles for 17G radio-frequency ablation probe placement. The needles contain stylets with embedded compliant joints for active tip articulations, and concentric tubes for (curved-path) guidance. Needle steering was evaluated sequentially by intended users and in intended-use tissue types. Six interventional radiologists evaluated the needle in repeated ultrasound-guided steering tasks in liver-mimicking phantoms. Targets were located at a 100 mm depth and 20 mm lateral offset from the initial insertion line. The resulting mean absolute tip placement error was 1.0 ± 1.0 mm. Subsequently, steering-induced tissue damage was evaluated in fresh cirrhotic human liver explants. The surface area of puncture holes was estimated in scanned histology slides, using a connected-components analysis. The mean surface area was 0.26 ± 0.16 mm2 after steering with a median radius of curvature of 0.7 × 103 mm, versus 0.35 ± 0.15 mm2 after straight-path insertions with the steerable needle and 0.15 ± 0.09 mm2 after straight-path RFA probe insertions. The steering mechanisms proposed enable clinically relevant path corrections for 17G needles. Radiologists were quickly adept in curved-path RFA probe placement and the evaluation of histological tissue damage demonstrated a potentially safe use during liver interventions.
- OA-Fund TU Delft