The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is to make an impact on the minimally invasive surgical systems market, which is greater than $24 billion globally and is projected to grow to more than $40 billion by 2025. The desire for increasingly smaller incisions leads to a need for decreased size and increased functionality of laparoscopic surgical tools. The proposed instruments combine multiple laparoscopic surgical tools (e.g. graspers, endoscopes, and sealers) into a single instrument, reducing the time (and associated cost) of switching instruments. The technology enables multiple tools to be inserted into the surgical space through a single incision, which reduces the number of incisions, operating time, recovery time, and patient pain, while also improving cosmetics. This product could also decrease costs and make minimally invasive surgical systems more affordable for healthcare systems and patients worldwide.
This I-Corps project will evaluate creating next-generation minimally invasive surgery instruments by applying fundamental research in developable mechanisms. The proposed laparoscopic instruments take advantage of developable mechanisms' conforming and emerging ability and combine multiple surgical instruments into a single instrument, thereby decreasing the number of cannulas (surgical rods) needed to perform a surgery and the number of incisions required. Fewer incisions leads to faster recovery time, less pain, and improved cosmetics. By integrating multiple instruments into a single unit, this technology will also be able to decrease the number of units required for surgical procedures and thereby decrease instrument and sterilization costs. Developable mechanisms are a new class of kinematic mechanism that can conform to or be embedded in developable surfaces. Developable mechanisms are a simple, clean way to add functionality to existing shafts or tubes without adding material or increasing complexity.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.