Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Gregory S. Fischer, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Zhi (Jane) Li, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

William R. Michalson, Committee Member




In needle-based surgical interventions, accurate alignment and insertion of the tool is paramount for providing proper treatment at a target site while minimizing healthy tissue damage. While manually-aligned interventions are well-established, robotics platforms promise to reduce procedure time, increase precision, and improve patient comfort and survival rates. Conducting interventions in an MRI scanner can provide real-time, closed-loop feedback for a robotics platform, improving its accuracy, yet the tight environment potentially impairs motion, and perceiving this limitation when planning a procedure can be challenging. This project developed a surgical workflow and software system for evaluating the workspace and planning the motions of a robotics platform within the confines of an MRI scanner. 3D Slicer, a medical imaging visualization and processing platform, provided a familiar and intuitive interface for operators to quickly plan procedures with the robotics platform over OpenIGTLink. Robotics tools such as ROS and MoveIt! were utilized to analyze the workspace of the robot within the patient and formulate the motion planning solution for positioning of the robot during surgical procedures. For this study, a 7 DOF robot arm designed for ultrasonic ablation of brain tumors was the targeted platform. The realized system successfully yielded prototype capabilities on the neurobot for conducting workspace analysis and motion planning, integrated systems using OpenIGTLink, provided an opportunity to evaluate current software packages, and informed future work towards production-grade medical software for MRI-guided, needle-based robotic interventions.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Robotics Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





OpenIGTLink, MRI, intervention, surgical, robot, 3D Slicer, ROS, MoveIt!, workspace, motion planning