Microrobotics for early detection of pathologies and minimally invasive surgery

Main UBFC partners : FEMTO-ST (departments of AS2M, MN2S, Optics and biom@x), Labex ACTION, Equipec Robotex, CHU, Centre d’Investigation Clinique de Besançon (INSERM CIC 1431), UTINAM (UMR UFC CNRS), Statice…

Multifunctional mechatronic systems include a combination of mechanics, electronics, control engineering, computer engineering as well as photonics and vision. They are studied in all top-level universities in the world. Micromechatronics – a combination of mechatronics and microtechnologies – is a field of excellence at FEMTO-ST, which comprises one of the largest groups in EU on this field.

Thus, 3 ambitious projects that target in-vivo biomedical applications are implemented by FEMTO-ST and the Labex ACTION:  early detection of skin pathologies, phonomicrosurgery and digestive endoscopy.

Contact : biomaxplus@femto-st.fr

In vivo 3D skin imaging for the early diagnosis of cutaneous pathologies

Parners: FEMTO-ST, UFC, CNRS, UFR SMP, CHU de Besancon, Universität Stuttgart, VTT Finland, CSEM, Frauenhofer ENAS, DermoScan GmBh, Statice.

Early diagnosis of skin cancer is essential since it can be treated more effectively when detected earlier. Visual inspection followed by histological examination, is still today, the gold standard for clinicians. However, a large number of unnecessary surgical procedures are still performed.

New diagnostics aids are emerging including the recent techniques of optical coherence tomography (OCT) which permits non-invasive 3D optical biopsies of skin, improving patient’s quality of life. Nevertheless, the existing bulk systems are expensive, only affordable at the Hospital and thus, not sufficiently used by physicians or dermatologists as an early diagnosis tool.


Fig. Electrostatic micro-actuators for the 2D positionning of a microlens

The goal of VIAMOS is to benefit from advanced MOEMS technologies, enabling a new generation of miniature instruments. The challenge is to provide handheld, low-cost, fully parallel spectral domain miniature OCT devices (cheaper, smaller), adapted for early diagnosis of cutaneous pathologies


See video: VIAMOS, Vertically Integrated Array-type Mirau-based OCT System :

Coordinator of VIAMOS: Prof. Christophe Gorecki (FEMTO-ST – Université de Franche-Comté) – christophe.gorecki@univ-fcomte.fr | www.viamos.eu

Microtechnologies and systems for robot-assisted laser phonosurgery
(FP7 µRalp)

Project partners : CHU de Besançon, Institut FEMTO-ST, Istituto Italian di Tecnologia, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Università degli Studi di Genova.

FEMTO-ST was part of the EU project “µRalp”. This multidisciplinary project proposed a redesign of laser phonomicrosurgery systems. Its main achievements relate to new assistive technologies and robotic tools to provide safety, efficiency, and improved quality to these surgical procedures. The central idea is to augment the surgeon’s dexterity, manipulation skills and efficiency through advanced surgeon-robot interfaces, sensors, actuators and supervisory safety.

After many research and development stages, preclinical tests were performed on cadavers at the Anatomy Institute (University of Franche-Comté) to validate the concept of the current prototype. Trials dealt with insertion of the endoscope, 3D visualization, ergonomics of the workplace and laser guidance inside the throat.


Prof. L. Tavernier (CHRUB) handling the µRALP demonstrator on dead bodies © Ludovic Godard (UFC)

In 2015, the microrobot developed by FEMTO-ST and and located inside the endoscope was validated by tests on cadavers. It was awarded the Microns d’Or Special Mention at the industry exhibition on microtechnologies (MICRONORA 2014) and is now subject to a transfer project rewarded by the Innovation Award at the industry exhibition on medical technologies (Med’Tech France 2015).

Contact : nicolas.andreff@femto-st.fr (FEMTO-ST – Université de Franche-Comté) http://www.microralp.eu

Robotic Interventional Digestive Endoscopy (Labex ACTION)

In the framework of the Labex Action (Demonstrator # 4), a smart endomicroscope is developed for early cancer detection and laser micro-surgery. It is designed to have access to the stomach and the bowel in order to reduce the mortality (1,3millions/year) due to gastrointestinal cancers through early detection.

This active OCT endomicroscope of DEMO4 will include a surgical tool combined with a high-performance robotized endomicroscope for the early detection and immediate treatment of cancer. Similar investigations are pursued by many research teams in the world but the approach of the Labex teams has significant advantages due to the deep integration of different expertise provided by FEMTO-ST.

The 3 main novelties are:

  • Integrating a MOEMS type Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) probe into the robotic system;
  • Using the OCT signal to guide the robotic tools, including a surgical laser.
  • Developing an original solution for dextereous intracorporeal micromanipulation.

3Preview of the concept :

  • Endomicroscope actuation
  • Hybrid micro-optical benches on chip
  • Scanning mirror for laser surgery
  • 3D image guided surgery

Potential surgery applications :

  • Embedded laser surgery (microphonosurgery)
  • Endoscopic Submucosal Dissection
  • Neuro-and intra-cardiovascular surgeries (dissection and/or evacuation of tumors assisted by microrobotics)

Zoom: Embedded actuation on deformable tubes
From very early endoscopy…to flexible endoscopy…to active endoscopy…to concentric tube robots !


CAD design of the EAP actuated concentric tube robot @FEMTO-ST

2 PhDs recruited by the Labex ACTION are developing a continuum microrobot with embedded actuators and its control via OCT feedback. Main challenges include:
•    Mechatronic design of variable curvature continuum microrobot (diameter < 5mm)
•    Modeling continuum robot based on smart material (EPA, SMA, piezoelectric…) with a variable section length
•     Multiphysics optimization based on robotic performance indixes
•     Low level control with sensory feedback or state estimation
•    Advanced control using OCT signal

Key recent publications :

The groundbreaking proposal of the Labex ACTION that is presented at the Advances in Robot Kinematic (a reference conference in robot modelling) is a microrobotic solution with embedded ElectroActivePolymer actuators, which is the best tradeoff between strain, dynamics, input voltage and biocompatibiltiy. Presently, grafting of the tubes is under study.

5Advances in Robot Kinematics, July 1–3, 2014
Kinematic modeling of an eap actuated continuum robot for active micro-endoscopy.
M.T. Chikhaoui, K. Rabenorosoa, and N. Andreff.
In J. Lenarcic and Oussama Khatib, editors, Advances in Robot Kinematics, pages 457–465. Springer, 2014

Conference: 14th International Symposium on Advances in Robot Kinematics (ARK’2014), Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 2014.

Decoupling Path Following and Velocity Profile in Vision-guided Laser Steering. IEEE
Jean-Antoine Seon, Brahim Tamadazte, Nicolas Andreff,
Transaction on Robotics, vol. 31(2), pp. 280-289, 2015.

SQUIPABOT: a Mesoscale Parallel Robot for a Laser Phonosurgery.
Kanty Rabenorosoa, Bastien Tasca, Antonin Zerbib, Patrick Rougeot,
Nicolas Andreff, Pengwang Eakkachai,
International Journal of Optomechatronics, pp. 1-33, 2015.

Laser steering using virtual trifocal visual servoing.
Nicolas Andreff, Brahim Tamadazte,
International Journal of Robotics Research vol. 1(23), pp. 1-24, 2015.

Multi-view vision system for laparoscopy surgery
B Tamadazte, A Agustinos, P Cinquin, G Fiard, S Voros
International journal of computer assisted radiology and surgery 10(2), 195-203, 2015.

Positioning accuracy characterization of assembled microscale components for micro-optical benches.
Assembly Automation (Volume 34, Issue (1), jan 2014, Pages: 69-77)
Clévy, Cédric | Lungu, Ion | Rabenorosoa, Kanty | Lutz, Philippe

See also the lastest UBFC publication linked to the microrobotics field :

Modeling and Stress Analysis of a Pre-Shaped Curved Beam: Influence of High Modes of Buckling
Hussein, Hussein; Le Moal, Patrice; Bourbon, Gilles; et al.
International journal of applied mechanics  Volume: 7   Issue: 4