Patil, Sachin; Burgner, Jessica; Webster III, Robert J; Alterovitz, Ron
IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 30 (4), pp. 853–864, 2014
Steerable needles have the potential to improve the effectiveness of needle-based clinical procedures such as biopsy and drug delivery by improving targeting accuracy and reaching previously inaccessible targets that are behind sensitive or impenetrable anatomical regions. We present a new needle steering system capable of automatically reaching targets in 3-D environments while avoiding obstacles and compensating for real-world uncertainties. Given a specification of anatomical obstacles and a clinical target (e.g., from preoperative medical images), our system plans and controls needle motion in a closed-loop fashion under sensory feedback to optimize a clinical metric. We unify planning and control using a new fast algorithm that continuously replans the needle motion. Our rapid replanning approach is enabled by an efficient sampling-based rapidly exploring random tree (RRT) planner that achieves orders-of-magnitude reduction in computation time compared with prior 3-D approaches by incorporating variable curvature kinematics and a novel distance metric for planning. Our system uses an electromagnetic tracking system to sense the state of the needle tip during the procedure. We experimentally evaluate our needle steering system using tissue phantoms and animal tissue ex vivo. We demonstrate that our rapid replanning strategy successfully guides the needle around obstacles to desired 3-D targets with an average error of less than 3 mm.