Transbronchial biopsy catheter enhanced by a multisection continuum robot with follow-the-leader motion.

Dupourqué L1,2Masaki F2,3Colson YL4Kato T3Hata N5.

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Current manual catheters for transbronchial biopsy in the lung lack a steering ability, which hampers a physician’s ability to reach nodules in the peripheral lung. The objective of this paper is to design and build a multisection robot with a follow-the-leader motion and compare the performance of the conventional catheter and our robotic catheter in the right main and right segmental lobar bronchus.


A three-section continuum robot with an outer diameter of 3 mm was developed. Each section includes one anchored wire and two driving wires made of stainless steel. Follow-the-leader control is implemented using a joystick for a physician to control the distal section of the robot, while the subsequent two sections follow the controlled distal section.


The robotic catheter deviated from the preplanned approach path by less than the manual catheter did (robotic: [Formula: see text] mm and manual: [Formula: see text] mm), with [Formula: see text]. The average force applied to the wall, producing potential trauma to the wall, was less for the robotic catheter ([Formula: see text] N) than for the manual catheter ([Formula: see text] N), [Formula: see text].


This study demonstrated an improvement in the maneuverability for the robotic catheter. In addition to a greater aptitude for reaching a peripheral area of the lung, these findings suggest that the designated target in a peripheral area can be reached with less trauma to the bronchi wall.


Bronchoscopy; Continuum robots; Lung biopsy; Multisection robot; Surgical roboticsPMID: 31289997 DOI: 10.1007/s11548-019-02017-w