Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Gregory S. Fischer, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Zhi Li, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Loris Fichera, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Junichi Tokuda, Committee Member




Intra-operative imaging is sometimes available to assist in needle biopsy, but typical open- loop insertion does not account for unmodeled needle deflection or target shift. Robotic closed-loop compensation for deviation from an initial straight-line trajectory can reduce the targeting error, using image-guidance for rotational control of an asymmetric bevel tip. By pairing closed-loop trajectory compensation with a hands-on cooperatively controlled needle insertion, a physician's control of the procedure can be maintained while incorporating benefits of robotic accuracy. Additionally, if puncture of a membrane can be detected, an enhanced haptic response can assist the physician in perceived anatomical localization of the needle tip. Functionality was implemented on a needle placement robot suitable for use in the MR environment and capable of holding a typical clinically used biopsy gun. The robot is configured for cooperatively controlled needle insertion with continuous closed-loop image- guided needle rotation. The robot and custom controller were tested for their effect on the Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) of MR images, and the results showed an approximate drop of only 12% in signal when the robot was present, and no additional signal drop when the robot was powered on or moving. The hardware and software subsystems were developed for clinical translation, and after each was validated in the lab they were integrated into the clinical environment to mimic the workflow of MRI-guided targeted biopsy. The full system was evaluated in-bore at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA where experiments for real-time puncture detection and MR image-guided targeted needle insertions under cooperative control were performed. Results showed overall targeting accuracy was 3.42mm RMS, improving accuracy by approximately 50% as compared to clinical trials of prostate biopsy using manual needle insertion. A cooperatively controlled robotic biopsy is more likely to gain acceptance by physicians over teleoperation due to maintaining proximity to the surgical site, but regulatory hurdles regarding robotic needle insertion still exist. The current robotic system framework is suitable for clinical use as it was fully validated in-bore, but some modifications could be made to increase the likelihood of regulatory approval. With these modifications the system could be ready for cadaver and pre- clinical animal trials within one year, and ready for in-human clinical trials in the next two to three years.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Robotics Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Teleoperation, Cooperative Control, Needle-based interventions, Prostate Cancer, Surgical Robotics, MRI-Compatible Robot, Image-Guided Therapy