Ultrasonically-Enhanced Wasp-Inspired Locomtion

Self-propelling capsule colonoscopy is an auspicious alternative to conventional colon endoscopes, as it holds the potential to enhance the effectiveness of procedures with reduced complications and increased patient comfort. Recently, we developed a wasp-inspired self-propelling capsule for colonoscopy, which exploits asymmetric friction to navigate within the colon. In this project, we aim to enhance the capsule’s design by utilizing ultrasonic vibrations to maximize friction asymmetry, thereby improving its locomotion efficiency.

Interested? Contact Mostafa A. Atalla m.a.a.atalla@tudelft.nl

Plant root inspired steerable needle for urology (CLOSED)

This graduation assignment focuses on the design of a steerable needle for urology procedures, in specific prostate cancer treatment, with a focus on improving accuracy, precision, and patient comfort. The design of the needle will be inspired by the root system of plants, particularly how they extend and move through soil. The tip of the needle will have an extension that can be steered to the desired location within the prostate. 

The assignment involves designing, developing, and testing a novel steerable needle that allows for accurate needle positioning. We are looking for a student who is interested in a design-oriented project and who can start at short notice (i.e., spring or summer 2023). For this project, creative problem solving, SolidWorks, and 3D-printing skills, and an interest in medical topics would be useful. 

Interested? Please contact Jette Bloemberg, j.bloemberg@tudelft.nl, and/or Esther de Kater, e.p.dekater@tudelft.nl.

Design an adjustable medical cast

When a patient has a broken bone often a customized medical cast is made to immobilize that part of the body where the broken bone is located in order for the bone to heel. Every patient receives a custom made cast or a custom made splint. The cast is made by specialist in the hospital. During the heeling of the bone patients suffer from muscle atrophy because of the immobilization. This occurs typically after 5 days of immobilization. This can cause more space between the cast and part of the body of the patient where the cast is located. This can reduce the function of the cast. On the other hand is some mobilization helpful for the healing process.

In this graduation project, you will design an adjustable medical cast so that the immobilization is optimized and the muscle atrophy minimized.

Interested? Contact Karin Thomassen k.e.thomassen@tudelft

Monitoring medical cast

When a patient has a broken bone often a customized cast is made to immobilize that part of the body where the broken bone is located in order for the bone to heel. Every patient receives a custom made cast or a custom made splint. During the phase of immobilization most patients are not hospitalized. Therefor their physician cannot monitor the heeling process of the bone. What noninvasive device could help both patient and physician to get a better insight in the heeling progress during immobilization in order to minimize the immobilization phase so that complications like muscle atrophy is minimalized?

In this graduation project, you will design a non-invasive monitoring medical cast to inform both patient and physician about the progress of the healing of the bone.

Interested? Contact Karin Thomassen k.e.thomassen@tudelft

Seal-Free Laproscopic Trocars

In laparoscopic surgery, surgical instruments are inserted into the body through trocars to interact with the patient’s tissues. The laparoscopic instrument placed inside a trocar is in contact with a series of overlapping seals that fit tightly around the instrument to maintain gas pressure within the body cavity. Friction forces generated at the instrument–trocar seal interface, hinder surgeons’ haptic perception. As a consequence, the surgeon may have difficulty in perceiving differences in tissue resistance especially when the magnitude of tissue contact forces is similar to the seal resistance force. To address this issue, some trocar designs use pressurized air to create a seal that also supports the shaft without friction, but this technique requires extra equipment and can be noisy. In this project, we aim to develop a novel seal-free laparoscopic trocars which can provide frictionless support to the surgical instruments and leak-proof interface.

Interested? Contact Mostafa Atalla, m.a.a.atalla@tudelft.nl

Variable Friction Catheter

In cardiovascular interventions, Catheters are typically inserted in the radial or femoral artery and are navigated through the arteries to the heart, where the interventions are performed.  In order to safely reach the heart,  catheters  (and guidewires) used during these procedures need to be able to easily follow the curves in the  vascular  system,  while  creating  as  little  friction  as  possible to avoid damaging the blood vessel inner wall.  While low friction is beneficial during navigation, it makes holding the catheter at a specific location in open spaces, such as inside the heart, difficult during the execution of the surgical procedure. Thus, it limits the force transmission capability of the catheter. In this project, we look forward to developing a new variable friction catheter which can be modulated to have low friction while navigating and high friction while performing the surgical task to ensure optimal performance and outcomes in both cases.

The assignment is currently available with compatible literature review assignments. Interested? Contact Mostafa Atalla: m.a.a.atalla@tudelft.nl  

Ovipositor MRI-Needle

Developed in 2020-2021, diameter 0.8 mm.

Female parasitic wasps pass their eggs through an organ called the ovipositor into their hosts, which sometimes hide in a solid substrate such as wood. The ovipositor has the shape of a tube and consists of three slender, parallel-positioned segments, called valves. The wasp can push and pull the valves with respect to each other in a reciprocating manner. A groove-and-tongue mechanism interlocks the valves along their length. The push-pull motion of the valves has two functions. First, it keeps the unsupported length of the individual valves low. Second, moving the individual valves forward one by one while pulling the others provides stability to the wasp’s ovipositor and prevents buckling. The push and pull forces produce a net force near zero, enabling a self-propelled motion.

Inspired by the wasp ovipositor, we developed a self-propelled Ovipositor MRI-Needle with a diameter of 0.8 mm that can be used inside an MRI system. Our needle consists of six parallel needle segments and an actuation unit. The design of the actuation unit is based on the so-called click-pen mechanism of a ballpoint pen. The actuation unit allows you to actuate the needle that consists of six parallel Nitinol segments by just a translating motion. We 3D-printed the components of this actuation to be able to test it inside an MRI system. The video below shows the movement of the needle segments actuated by the actuation unit:

The prototype was tested with success in ex-vivo human prostate tissue in a preclinical 7-Tesla MRI system at the Amsterdam University Medical Centres. The results showed that the needle tip was visible in MR images and that the needle was able to self-propel through tissue.

This project, in which we developed a self-propelled wasp-inspired needle that can be used inside an MRI system, is part of Project 4 of the MEDPHOT programme funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). MEDPHOT focusses on the development of photonics-based technologies that can enable earlier diagnosis and tailored treatment of diseases in the pulmonology, urology, and gastroenterology fields and translate these technologies to their clinical environments. The goal of Project 4 is to develop a novel transperineal laser ablation platform for an accurate treatment of prostate tumours under MRI.


Spinal bone anchor fixation by molding to the pedicle

During spinal fusion surgery, multiple vertebrae are fused by fixating them together. The fixation of the vertebrae is achieved by placing screws through the pedicles of the vertebrae that are connected to rods. The fixation strength of the screw mainly relies on the contact area between the screw and the outer bone layer of the vertebra. This contact can only be achieved within the pedicle of the vertebra. However, even in the pedicle, this contact is limited due to the hourglass shape and oval cross-section of the pedicle.

In this graduation project, you will design a bone anchor that can adapt its shape in 3D to the pedicle of the vertebra to fixate to increase the contact area between the anchor and the cortical outer layer of the pedicle.

Interested? Contact Esther de Kater, E.P.dekater@tudelft.nl

Design of an internal fixation system for spinal fusion surgery

During spinal fusion surgery multiple vertebrae are fused by fixating them together. The fixation of the vertebrae is achieved by placing screws through the pedicles of the vertebrae that are connected to rods. The rods run along the vertebrae and are embedded in the surrounding soft tissue. This can result in pain and irritation for the patient.

The vertebra grow together and form one bony mass in the first six months after surgery. During this period the forces acting on the fixation are substantial during daily activities. If the screw loosen during this period, the desired fusion cannot be achieved.

In this graduation project we will set the first steps in the direction of a new fixation method that is mainly located within the vertebra. The graduation projects focuses on the development of a drilling and/or anchoring system that can be used to create the desired fixation.

Interested? Contact Esther de Kater, E.P.dekater@tudelft.nl

Neural network for tissue classification (CLOSED)

The spine is the central support structure of the body that helps us humans sit, stand up and walk around, twist and bend. Age-related degeneration, but also congenital deformities can cause back pain and spinal instability, requiring surgical fixation of the spine. To guide the surgeon’s drill during spine surgery, the tissue in front of its tip is assessed with a fiber-optic sensing system, but we currently don’t know how to evaluate the recorded data.

The focus of this graduation project in collaboration with Philips Research will be to train a neural network with data from different tissues found in/around the spine to develop a classifier that will guide surgeons during spine surgery. This project does not require preliminary AI knowledge or programming skills, although knowing some python basics will be of use.

Interested? Contact Merle Losch, m.s.losch@tudelft.nl

Solving medical problems through nature’s ingenuity