Faculty Advisor

Gregory S. Fischer

Faculty Advisor

John M. Sullivan

Faculty Advisor

Cagdas D. Onal

Faculty Advisor

Iulian Iordachita

Faculty Advisor

Raghvendra V. Cowlagi




"This dissertation describes the development of a methodology for implementing robotic systems for interventional procedures under intraoperative Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) guidance. MRI is an ideal imaging modality for surgical guidance of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, thanks to its ability to perform high resolution, real-time, and high soft tissue contrast imaging without ionizing radiation. However, the strong magnetic field and sensitivity to radio frequency signals, as well as tightly confined scanner bore render great challenges to developing robotic systems within MRI environment. Discussed are potential solutions to address engineering topics related to development of MRI-compatible electro-mechanical systems and modeling of steerable needle interventions. A robotic framework is developed based on a modular design approach, supporting varying MRI-guided interventional procedures, with stereotactic neurosurgery and prostate cancer therapy as two driving exemplary applications. A piezoelectrically actuated electro-mechanical system is designed to provide precise needle placement in the bore of the scanner under interactive MRI-guidance, while overcoming the challenges inherent to MRI-guided procedures. This work presents the development of the robotic system in the aspects of requirements definition, clinical work flow development, mechanism optimization, control system design and experimental evaluation. A steerable needle is beneficial for interventional procedures with its capability to produce curved path, avoiding anatomical obstacles or compensating for needle placement errors. Two kinds of steerable needles are discussed, i.e. asymmetric-tip needle and concentric-tube cannula. A novel Gaussian-based ContinUous Rotation and Variable-curvature (CURV) model is proposed to steer asymmetric-tip needle, which enables variable curvature of the needle trajectory with independent control of needle rotation and insertion. While concentric-tube cannula is suitable for clinical applications where a curved trajectory is needed without relying on tissue interaction force. This dissertation addresses fundamental challenges in developing and deploying MRI-compatible robotic systems, and enables the technologies for MRI-guided needle-based interventions. This study applied and evaluated these techniques to a system for prostate biopsy that is currently in clinical trials, developed a neurosurgery robot prototype for interstitial thermal therapy of brain cancer under MRI guidance, and demonstrated needle steering using both asymmetric tip and pre-bent concentric-tube cannula approaches on a testbed."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Image-guided therapy, Needle-based interventions, MRI compatible robot