Robotically steered flexible needles navigate tissue

Robotically steering flexible needles can reach their intended target in tissue with sub-millimetre level accuracy. This has been demonstrated by the doctoral research of Momen Abayazid, who is affiliated with the research institute MIRA of the University of Twente. A major advantage of steering flexible needles is that one can avoid obstacles or sensitive tissues and can re-orient the path of the needle in real time as you insert the needle.
During many diagnostic and therapeutic procedures a needle is inserted into soft tissue, such as during biopsies, or inserting radioactive seeds in order to combat prostate cancer. In many of these operations the accurate positioning of the needle is of the utmost importance. In general, rigid needles with a relatively large diameter are used in these procedures. However, the drawback of these needles is that they cannot be manoeuvred when inserted into tissue and hence cannot avoid any obstacles. In addition, the tissue and organs deform during needle insertion. As a result, the needle often misses its target.
The University of Twente is has developed a robot-assisted system for steering flexible needles with an asymmetric tip. Such a needle naturally bends when inserted into tissue due to its asymmetric tip. By performing a sequence of insertions and rotations, one can steer the needle in complex three-dimensional paths. The needle is controlled by a robot and is tracked in real time using ultrasound images. This ensures that it is possible to adjust the needle