Berk Gonenc: Force Sensing for Robotic Assistance in Retinal Microsurgery

March 30, 2016 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
B17 Hackerman Hall
Iulian Iordachita


Microsurgery ranks among the most challenging areas of surgical practice, requiring the manipulation of extremely delicate tissues by various micron scale maneuvers and the application of very small forces. Vitreoretinal surgery, as the most technically demanding field of ophthalmic surgery, treats disorders of the retina, vitreous body, and macula, such as retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, macular hole, and epiretinal membrane. Recent advancements in medical robotics have significant potential to address most of the challenges in vitreoretinal practice, and therefore to prevent traumas, lessen complications, minimize intra-operative surgeon effort, maximize surgeon comfort, and promote patient safety. In this talk, I will present the development of novel force-sensing tools and robot control methods to produce integrated assistive surgical systems that work in partnership with surgeons against the current limitations in microsurgery, specifically focusing on membrane peeling and vein cannulation tasks in retinal microsurgery. Integrating high sensitivity force sensing into the ophthalmic instruments enables precise quantitative monitoring of applied forces. Auditory feedback based upon the measured forces can inform (and warn) the surgeon quickly during the surgery and help prevent injury due to excessive forces. Using these tools on a robotic platform can attenuate hand tremor of the surgeon, which effectively promotes tool manipulation accuracy. In addition, based upon certain force signatures, the robotic system can actively guide the tool towards clinical targets, compensate any involuntary motion of the surgeon, or generate additional motion that will make the surgical task easier. I will present our latest experimental results for two distinct robotic platforms, the Steady Hand Robot and Micron, with the force-sensing ophthalmic instruments, which show significant performance improvement in artificial dry phantoms and ex-vivo biological tissues.



Berk Gonenc is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He received his M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Washington State University Vancouver in 2011 and joined the Advanced Medical Instrumentation and Robotics Research Laboratory in Johns Hopkins University. He received his M.S.E. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 2014. His research is focused on developing smart instruments and robot systems for microsurgery.