All posts by Jette Bloemberg

Design of an Octopus-Inspired Device for Stable Needle Insertion (CLOSED)

Octopuses have eight arms that are perfect for gripping rocks, catching prey, and walking along different surfaces. They do this with the suction cups that underline their arms. We are currently developing soft suction cups for stable needle insertion in flexible tissue inspired by these octopus suction cups.

Tissue motion and deformation leads to needle positioning errors. Hence, clinicians typically needle multiple attempts to position the needle at the target location. To achieve accurate needle positioning, clinicians can stabilize the tissue by gripping it. However, gripping and handling of slippery and flexible tissues during minimally invasive surgery is often challenging. Current grippers commonly use a force grip to manipulate tissue, which makes it prone to damage. Octopus-inspired suction cups integrated with a needle could be the solution that stabilizes tissue during needle insertion without damaging the tissue.

This MSc-graduation project involves designing, developing, and testing a novel stable-needle insertion device that allows for accurate needle positioning. We are searching for a student that is interested in a design-oriented project. For this project, SolidWorks, 3D-printing, and creative-problem-solving skills are useful.

Interested? Please contact Vera Kortman ( or Jette Bloemberg (

Design of a Wasp-Inspired Steerable Needle for Urology (CLOSED)

In nature, there is a special group of wasps known as parasitoid wasps. They have a thin and steerable needle-like structure called the ovipositor. This ovipositor is used to lay eggs in hosts. The ovipositor is a very thin organ shaped like a flexible, hollow needle. In order to reach the right location, the wasp can steer her ovipositor. How it steers is still being studied.

We are currently developing novel steerable needles for prostate and kidney interventions inspired by the wasp ovipositor. This project will focus on understanding the steering mechanism of the ovipositor and applying this to new needle designs. We are searching for an MSc student that can start at short notice with this interesting graduation project.

Interested? Please contact Jette Bloemberg,

Design of an Ultrasound-Enhanced Needle

Needles are an integral part of many medical procedures nowadays. In prostate cancer ablation procedures, for example, surgeons insert a needle into the prostate tumor with image guidance to deliver the treatment fiber to the cancerous tissue. Needle insertion is not, however, a simple task and requires precision localization to reach the target accurately. Furthermore, minimal insertion forces are required to preserve the tissue that the needle is penetrating. In nature, some wasp and mosquito species are able to move a needle-like structure in substrates using a vibrating motion, this vibrating motion is thought to reduce the frictional force during the penetration process. In this graduation project, we look forward to developing an ultrasound-enhanced needle to minimize the effect of the friction forces acting on the needle, thus increasing the positioning accuracy and minimizing the tissue damage due to penetration.

The assignment is available from October 2021. Interested? Contact Jette Bloemberg: or Mostafa Atalla:

NWO MEDPHOT – MRI-ready steerable needles

This research project is part of the MEDPHOT programme and is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO. The MEDPHOT programme, carried out bij a consortium of Dutch Universities, university medical centres, and companies, aims to develop new optical biomarkers that are needed to realise earlier diagnosis, improved treatment and better quality of life in the fields of oncology, asthma, and neurodegeneration.

The standard surgical treatment of prostate cancer is radical prostatectomy. However, side effects of radical prostatectomy are incontinence and erectile dysfunction. A local treatment that preserves noncancerous tissue like focal laser ablation reduces these side effects. Focal laser ablation is an optical fibre-based laser ablation treatment that allows for fast percutaneous focal ablation of prostate tumours. Using needles and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guidance, the medical operator can position optical fibres at the target region. However, for ablation to be successful, it is important to have full positioning control over the accuracy and extend of the ablation.

This research aims to develop an MRI in-bore ready steerable needles to position the optical treatment fibre at the target region. A novel actuation system will allow for safe use inside the MRI scanner.  The integration of the steerable needle, the novel actuation system, and a laser ablation fibre will make the needle suitable for use under MRI guidance to enable precise ablation of the prostate tumour.