New Scale Technologies, Inc. (NST) proposes to develop a novel, clinically compatible, six-degree-of-freedom (6-DOF), hand-held micromanipulator that cancels hand tremors in microsurgical systems. This work builds on the published research completed by Dr. Cameron Riviere of the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute (CMU-RI) and Dr. Louis Lobes, clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh who have achieved promising tremor-corrective laboratory results with their active hand-held manipulator known as Micron. This instrument uses unique and patented components and sub-systems from NST to enable the first 6-DOF manipulator that is small enough to be hand-held. The system tracks its own motion, determines the undesired component of motion (hand tremors) by filtering, and deflects the tool tip with an equal but opposite motion to reduce the tremor amplitude. In laboratory experiments, Micron has been shown to significantly neutralize tremor within quantitatively acceptable force levels, promising to eliminate most iatrogenic retinal tears that are reported to occur in 4% to 18% of vitrectomies. NST's proposed work will improve the performance and reliability of the tremor cancelling manipulator and create a clinically compatible product that is ready for commercialization.
The Specific AIMS for the Phase 1 work are: (1) Design and build an improved 6-DOF hand piece that is not larger than Micron while achieving: improved dynamic performance, higher precision, integration of a microcontroller with local feedback and motion control, and compatible interfaces to the CMU-RI Micron system. (2) Bench-test the new hand piece performance at NST to demonstrate the quantitative targets for performance and reliability. (3) Integrate the hand piece in the Micron system at CMU-RI and complete laboratory testing to demonstrate that tremor cancellation targets have been achieved. (4) Evaluate the feasibility of creating a wireless hand piece in future designs by using MEMS inertial sensors for tremor sensing, on-board batteries and wireless communication. NST's anticipated Phase 2 work will develop and demonstrate the complete stabilized hand-held 6-DOF manipulator that is clinically compatible with existing vitreoretinal surgical suites including the use of disposable tools (forceps, scissor, picks etc.) used in vitrectomies. NST's anticipated Phase 3 commercialization plan will establish OEM and licensing agreements with established suppliers of vitreoretinal surgical tools and systems.
The objective of this research and development effort is to develop a clinically compatible, tremor-corrective, handheld manipulator for vitreoretinal microsurgery that will permit surgeons to push beyond the current state of practice to attain 'superhuman' levels of accuracy. This will allow new vitreoretinal clinical procedures to be performed that are not feasible today and will improve the performance quality of existing clinical procedures. Once the micromanipulator has been developed for vitreoretinal applications, it likely can be applied to a wide variety of microsurgical devices for use in other medical disciplines.