Date of Award

Winter 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Committee Director

Krishnanand Kaipa

Committee Member

Stacie Ringleb

Committee Member

Stacie Ringleb

Committee Member

Michel Audette


Specimen retrieval is an important step in laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed to diagnose and treat a myriad of medical pathologies in fields ranging from gynecology to oncology. Specimen retrieval bags (SRBs) are used to facilitate this task, while minimizing contamination of neighboring tissues and port-sites in the abdominal cavity. This manual surgical procedure requires usage of multiple ports, creating a traffic of simultaneous operations of multiple instruments in a limited shared workspace. The skill-demanding nature of this procedure makes it time-consuming, leading to surgeons’ fatigue and operational inefficiency. This thesis presents the design and making of RoboCatch, a novel hand-held robot that aids a surgeon in performing spillage-free retrieval of operative specimens in laparoscopic surgery. The proposed design significantly modifies and extends conventional instruments that are currently used by surgeons for the retrieval task: The core instrumentation of RoboCatch comprises a webbed three-fingered grasper and atraumatic forceps that are concentrically situated in a folded configuration inside a trocar. The specimen retrieval task is achieved in six stages: 1) The trocar is introduced into the surgical site through an instrument port, 2) the three webbed fingers slide out of the tube and simultaneously unfold in an umbrella like-fashion, 3) the forceps slide toward, and grasp, the excised specimen, 4) the forceps retract the grasped specimen into the center of the surrounding grasper, 5) the grasper closes to achieve a secured containment of the specimen, and

6) the grasper, along with the contained specimen, is manually removed from the abdominal cavity. The resulting reduction in the number of active ports reduces obstruction of the port-site and increases the procedure’s efficiency. The design process was initiated by acquiring crucial parameters from surgeons and creating a design table, which informed the CAD modeling of the robot structure and selection of actuation units and fabrication material. The robot prototype was first examined in CAD simulation and then fabricated using an Objet30 Prime 3D printer. Physical validation experiments were conducted to verify the functionality of different mechanisms of the robot. Further, specimen retrieval experiments were conducted with porcine meat samples to test the feasibility of the proposed design. Experimental results revealed that the robot was capable of retrieving masses of specimen ranging from 1 gram to 50 grams. The making of RoboCatch represents a significant step toward advancing the frontiers of hand-held robots for performing specimen retrieval tasks in minimally invasive surgery.