The MemoSlide: An explorative study into a novel mechanical follow-the-leader mechanism

Paul W.J. Henselmans*, Stefan Gottenbos, Gerwin Smit, Paul Breedveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
83 Downloads (Pure)


Follow-the-leader propagation allows for the insertion of flexible surgical instruments along curved paths, reducing the access required for natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery. Currently, the most promising follow-the-leader instruments use the alternating memory method containing two mechanical memory-banks for controlling the motion of the flexible shaft, which reduces the number of actuators to a minimum. These instruments do, however, require concentric structures inside the shaft, limiting its miniaturization. The goal of this research was, therefore, to develop a mechanism conforming the principles of the alternating memory method that could be located at the controller-side instead of inside the shaft of the instrument, which is positioned outside the patient and is therefore less restricted in size. First, the three-dimensional motion of the shaft was decoupled into movement in a horizontal and vertical plane, which allowed for a relatively simple planar alternating memory mechanism design for controlling planar follow-the-leader motion. Next, the planar movement of the alternating memory mechanism was discretized, increasing its resilience to errors. The resulting alternating memory mechanism was incorporated and tested in a proof-of-concept prototype called the MemoSlide. This prototype does not include a flexible shaft, but was fully focused on proving the function of the alternating memory mechanism. Evaluation of the MemoSlide shows the mechanism to work very well, being able to transfer any planar path that lays within its physical boundaries along the body of the mechanism without accumulating errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1213-1223
JournalInstitution of Mechanical Engineers. Proceedings. Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • follow-the-leader
  • minimally invasive surgery
  • Natural orifices transluminal endoscopic surgery
  • pathway surgery
  • surgical instruments


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