Light in the Larynx: a Miniaturized Robotic Optical Fiber for In-office Laser Surgery of the Vocal Folds

by   Alex J. Chiluisa, et al.

This letter reports the design, construction, and experimental validation of a novel hand-held robot for in-office laser surgery of the vocal folds. In-office endoscopic laser surgery is an emerging trend in Laryngology: It promises to deliver the same patient outcomes of traditional surgical treatment (i.e., in the operating room), at a fraction of the cost. Unfortunately, office procedures can be challenging to perform; the optical fibers used for laser delivery can only emit light forward in a line-of-sight fashion, which severely limits anatomical access. The robot we present in this letter aims to overcome these challenges. The end effector of the robot is a steerable laser fiber, created through the combination of a thin optical fiber (0.225 mm) with a tendon-actuated Nickel-Titanium notched sheath that provides bending. This device can be seamlessly used with most commercially available endoscopes, as it is sufficiently small (1.1 mm) to pass through a working channel. To control the fiber, we propose a compact actuation unit that can be mounted on top of the endoscope handle, so that, during a procedure, the operating physician can operate both the endoscope and the steerable fiber with a single hand. We report simulation and phantom experiments demonstrating that the proposed device substantially enhances surgical access compared to current clinical fibers.


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