Towards robot-assisted retinal vein cannulation: A motorized force-sensing microneedle integrated with a handheld micromanipulator

Berk Gonenc, Jeremy Chae, Peter Gehlbach, Russell H. Taylor, Iulian Iordachita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Retinal vein cannulation is a technically demanding surgical procedure where therapeutic agents are injected into the retinal veins to treat occlusions. The clinical feasibility of this approach has been largely limited by the technical challenges associated with performing the procedure. Among the challenges to successful vein cannulation are identifying the moment of venous puncture, achieving cannulation of the micro-vessel, and maintaining cannulation throughout drug delivery. Recent advances in medical robotics and sensing of tool-tissue interaction forces have the potential to address each of these challenges as well as to prevent tissue trauma, minimize complications, diminish surgeon effort, and ultimately promote successful retinal vein cannulation. In this paper, we develop an assistive system combining a handheld micromanipulator, called “Micron”, with a force-sensing microneedle. Using this system, we examine two distinct methods of precisely detecting the instant of venous puncture. This is based on measured tool-tissue interaction forces and also the tracked position of the needle tip. In addition to the existing tremor canceling function of Micron, a new control method is implemented to actively compensate unintended movements of the operator, and to keep the cannulation device securely inside the vein following cannulation. To demonstrate the capabilities and performance of our uniquely upgraded system, we present a multi-user artificial phantom study with subjects from three different surgical skill levels. Results show that our puncture detection algorithm, when combined with the active positive holding feature enables sustained cannulation which is most evident in smaller veins. Notable is that the active holding function significantly attenuates tool motion in the vein, thereby reduces the trauma during cannulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2195
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Fiber Bragg grating
  • Force sensing
  • Retinal vein cannulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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