Non-Robotic Dexterous Laproscopic Instrument with a Wrist providing seven degrees of freedom


Inventors at Vanderbilt University have developed a non-robotic dexterous laparoscopic manipulator with a wrist providing seven-degrees-of-freedom. It provides an interface which intuitively maps motion of the surgeon’s hands to the tool’s "hands". The novel user interface approach provides a natural mapping of motion from the surgeon's hands to the instrument tips.

Addressed Need

• Current laparoscopic instruments use a rigid connection between the surgical tool and the tool shaft.

• Modern surgical robots provide wrist articulation; this invention enables it more cheaply and safely in a non-robootic tool.

• The key feature of this invention is an intuitive user interface for the surgeon.

Technology Description

The surgical manipulator offers surgeons a dexterous hand which can be used in procedures that would normally require the use of rigid laparoscopic or laparoscopic-type tool. The surgical manipulator can be suitable for use in laryngoscopic surgery, such as NOTES-based operations, trans-vaginal operations, and as a reach extension tool for working with obese patients.


Unique Features and Competitive Advantages

• The symmetric design provides a natural mapping of surgeon hand motions to tool tip motions.

• The wrist control pivot can be placed within the span of the handles. This makes controlling the tool similar to using a pair of pliers.

• No return spring for operation.

• Tactile feedback from the gripping device is enhanced by the absence of a return spring.

• A motion compensation mechanism to compensate for the natural mirror image effects between the orientation of the user control and the distal forearm while maintaining the alignment between the user interface and the distal gripper.


Potential Market Size
The minimally invasive tool market is very large and growing, with more and more patients opting for minimally invasive surgery vs traditional open surgery. The overall market is expected to grow from $27B to $37.8B by 2017, with new technologies such as this device leading the way. The device presented here could benefit over 1.8 million minimally invasive procedures in the US each year, with millions more worldwide benefitting from the dexterity and natural user interface of the tool. With an approximate cost of $400 per tool, this is a US market of $750M.

Intellectual Property Status

US Utility Patent filed on 4/30/2012, Link:

Working prototypes have been built and are undergoing further testing and refinement.

Ray LathropRobert WebsterJames NettervilleArundathi PrasadStanley Herrell
Licensing manager: 
Ashok Choudhury

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