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The steerable catheters have demonstrated many advantages to overcome the limitations of the conventional catheters in the minimally invasive surgery. The motion and force transmission from the proximal end to distal tip of the catheter have significant effects to the efficiency and safety of surgery. While the force information between the catheter and the body (e.g., vessel) can be obtained by mounting sensors on the distal tip of the catheter, this would be more intrusive and less reliable than the one without the sensors, which is described in this disseration. In addition, the small diameters of the catheters may also restrict the idea of mounting sensors on the distal tip. The other approach to obtain the force information is to infer it from the information outside the body. This will demand an accurate mathematical model that describes the force and motion relation called kinetic model, and unfortunately, such a kinetic model is not available in the literature. In this dissertation, a kinetic model for steerable catheters is presented wich captures the following characteristics of the steerable catheter, namely (1) the geometrical non-linear behavior of the catheter in motion, (2) the deformable pathway, (3) the friction between the catheter and the pathyway, and (4) the contact between the catheter and pathway. A non-linear finite element system (SPACAR) was employed to capture these characteristics. A test-bed was built and an experiment was carried out to verify the developed kinetic model. The following conclusions can be drawn from this dissertation: (1) the developed kinetic model is accurte in comparison with those in literature; (2) the Dahl friction model, the LuGre friction model and the simplified LuGre friction model are able to capture the friction behavior between the catheter and the pathway but the Coulomb friction model fails (as it cannot capture the hysteresis property which has a significant influence on the behavior of the catheter); (3) the developed kinetic model has the potential of being used to optimize the design and operation of steerable catheters with several salient findings that (3a) the maximal contact force between the catheter and the pathway occurs on the tip of the distal part or the connecting part between the distal part and catheter body of the catheter and (3b) the rigidity and length of the distal part are crucial structural parameters that affect the motion and force transmission significantly. There are several contributions made by this dissertation. In the field of the steerable catheter, biomechanics and bio-instrumentation, the contributions are summarized in the following: (1) the approach to develop the kinetic model of the steerable catheter in a complex work environment is useful to model other similar compliant medical devices, such as endoscope; (2) the kinetic model of the steerable catheter can provide the force information to improve the efficiency and safety of MIS (minimally invastive surgery) and to realize the “doctor-assisted” catheter-based MIS procedure; (3) the kinetic model can provide accurate data for developing other simplified models for the steerable catheters in their corresponding work environments for realizing the robotic-based fully automated MIS procedure. (4) The kinetic model of the steerable catheter and the test-bed with the corresponding instruments and methods for the kinetic and kinematic measurements are a useful design validation in the steerable catheter technology as well as for the training of physicians to perform the catheter-based interventional procedure by adding more complex anatomic phantoms. In the field of continuum manipulator and continuum robots, the approach to develop the kinetic model is useful to model other manipulators and robots, such as snake-like robots.



Steerable Catheter, Modeling, Kinetics, Contact, Continuum Manipulator



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical Engineering


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