Flexible Bronchoscopy


Flexible bronchoscopy is a medical intervention device that mostly be used for conducting inspection, biopsy, and interventional surgery in respiratory airways. Commonly, it consists of a flexible tube with three channels consisting of a light source, an image sensor, and a working channel which are located along the way to a distal-end of the flexible bronchoscope. To facilitate the bronchoscopist inserting and orientating the FOB to the target location inside the respiratory airways, the distal end is designed in such a way that it can bend with specific bending angle and controlled by the bronchoscopist using two thin wires.

However the extreme movement of the distal end of the flexible bronchoscope during TBBx and VATS may cause pneumothorax. Therefore, there is a need of a distal end of the FOB to have a soft movement to minimize the risk of pneumothorax. Global rotation in the flexible bronchoscope may be difficult to perform during the bronchoscopy procedure. Hence, there is a need of local rotation feature in the distal end of the FOB to ease the movement control. Soft actuator with its smooth motion is potential for medical application. However, according to our knowledge, it is not yet applied in the FOB.

Our hypothesis is that soft actuator mechanism is possible to be implemented for a safer FOB which can minimize the risk of pneumothorax by providing small size, soft motion bending, and local rotation.

The specifications of the distal end of the FOB prototype were designed. It consists of bending and rotating capabilities, structure and size, fiber pattern and angle, material selection, and endoscope camera. Simulation processes using Finite Element Analysis software were applied to verify the optimum design of the prototype. A product benchmarking was conducted for applying a suitable endoscope camera. A rapid prototyping software was used to design the molds and a CNC machine was used to fabricate the molds.