Design of a Robotic Mechanism for Newborn Intracranial Tele-Echography

Project Details


Newborn children before the age of 9 to 18 months have an anatomical particularity: their skull is composed of severalseparated bones leaving a zone of soft tissues: fontanelle. These bones are subject to an ossification that progressivelycloses the skull. The softness of the fontanelle tissues allows the propagation of ultrasonic waves, which makes possiblethe use of ultrasound for intracranial examination. This specific medical care is called Intracranial Ultrasound (ICU)examination. This task is performed in large number in Taiwan, as a routine exanimation or as critical clinicalmonitoring where the patients are often place inside neonatal incubator.The objective of this project is to design a robotic manipulator being able to perform remote ICU examinations. Thespecific medical robotic application that allows a doctor to provide ultrasound examination to a distant patient, namelythe tele-echography, has been subject to many attentions by medical robotic research since the nineties. However, atele-operated system dedicated to the examination of newborn’s fontanelle has never been proposed. This project aimsto develop the first tele-echography robot for ICU on newborn patients by addressing the mechanical design of aspecific mechanism to manipulate the ultrasound probe.The ICU examination through the fontanelle is a delicate procedure as the tissues in contact with probe are fragile.Moreover, the patient is located inside an incubator. This makes the present procedure very challenging to robotize. Anew mechanism based on a common pantographic architecture of two Degree of Freedom (DoF) is proposed for thedesign of the manipulator. Specific architectural improvements are implemented to enhance it into a six-DoFmechanism (three linear and three angular). The definition and the mission-oriented optimization of this mechanism willbe based on the result of kinematic and force analysis of the clinical task gesture through experimentations.In order to complete the robotic system, a haptic control device will be design to allow the pediatric doctor to remotelycontrol the manipulator. An active force feedback system will generate to operator the same kinesthetic sensation of areal examination. It will also allow the operator to accurately control the force to apply on the fontanelle tissues. Aseries of experimentation are planned to be carried out to test and to validate the motion trajectory and force feedbacksystem of the global “Master-Slave” robotic system. They will respectively rely on motion capture system and externalforce sensor method. Final clinical simulation experiments will be performed with our medical collaborator to validatethe robotic system for ICU examination.This project will bring significant outcomes in terms of innovations: the first medical robotic system dedicated topediatric patients, the development of a robotic arm able to operate inside an incubator and the definition innovativemechanical architecture. Also, it will generate a demonstrator for further multidisciplinary tele-echography projectinvolving tele-manipulation, communication, control, etc.
Effective start/end date1/08/1731/10/18

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • Robotics
  • tele-echography
  • newborn patients
  • pantographic mechanism
  • haptic control device


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