One of the best examples of particularly gentle medical interventions is minimally invasive surgery. This requires small-sized openings into the body, through the navel, for example, rather than large incisions. Of course, these operating methods call for specialist equipment. As all the components used need to be as compact as possible, microdrives are the perfect solution for the medical actuator systems deployed in this field. They produce high performance from very low volumes, are very easy to control and adaptable to all medical standards, making them perfect for extending the fingertip sensitivity of the operator. Minimally invasive surgery represents a significant improvement for patients. However, the "operating tools" used do need to meet exacting requirements in terms of flexibility, reliability and ergonomics. French company EndoControl from La Tronche near Grenoble has developed the new ViKY system (Vision Control for endoscopY), which is tailored to meet exactly these everyday medical requirements. In order to accommodate all the options the system offers to the operator within the smallest possible space, the developers worked in conjunction with microdrive specialist FAULHABER from Schönaich. Modern micromotors with precision gears and Motion Controllers are now used for the precision execution of the surgeon's control commands.
The new endoscopy system was developed with flexibility and compact design in mind from the very outset. The device can handle all standard procedures in the abdomen, chest cavity and other body cavities. Its small size compared to other systems means the surgeon is given better access to the patient. This is a benefit which should not be under-estimated, as the surgeons can utilize their experience in direct contact with the patient and are not reliant on pre-filtered information on a screen.
Its comparatively low procurement and operating costs, compact size and the fact that ease of sterilization has been incorporated into the design make the system ideal for various surgical disciplines. Thanks to the precision control drives, the system can be used just as effectively in different areas, such as gynecology, urology or gastro-intestinal, bariatric and thoracoscopic surgery – a tangible benefit for patients.
Drive system easy to integrate
Naturally, this kind of application needs motors which are small and compact, but high-performance at the same time. It is an opportunity for modern drive technology to be utilized to its full potential. The quiet movements thanks to bearings associated to EndoControl’s ViKY precise mechanism, sensitive reaction to control commands and high performance ratio all speak for themselves. The broad temperature range of -30 to +125 °C is compatible with all standard disinfection methods. Its long service life guarantees reliable functionality over a long period, which is a tangible benefit for a medical device. The speed is optimized to the relevant application. The bandwidth of reduction ratios ranges from approx. 3:1 to 1500:1, giving extensive latitude for optimum adjustment of speed and torque. Using the metallic gearheads, up to 700 mNm can be achieved. The position resolution generated provides both sufficient power and high levels of precision to the drive shaft. The compact control center integrated in EndoControl’s ViKY control unit also has built-in adjustable control functions such as power and speed limits. This means that both the controller and the motor fulfill all EMC requirements for use in a medical environment.