Optical Coherence Tomography–Guided Robotic System for Automated Retinal Microsurgery
Retinal vein occlusion is one of the most common disease-related causes of vision loss. It occurs when a blood clot or other obstruction occludes a retinal vein inside the eye. While treatment options exist, there is no cure. One potential remedy is retinal vein cannulation, a surgical procedure where the occluded vein is cannulated and infused with an anticoagulant to dissolve the obstruction. However, due to the physiological limitations of human surgeons—including hand tremor and limited resolution of depth perception—retinal vein cannulation remains only a theoretical practice.
This work presents a robotic system capable of performing automated retinal vein cannulation on custom retinal vein phantoms. The system is integrated with an optical coherence tomography probe to provide depth information in the form of visual imagery. Through the automation of critical procedural steps, the developed system reduces the challenges of vein access and infusion to a simple guidance problem with only a single degree of freedom.
The developed system was evaluated through a set of trials and shown to be capable of performing retinal vein cannulation with minimal surgical complications. The developed technology is expected to lead to improvements in other vitreoretinal surgical procedures which are difficult or infeasible to perform with traditional techniques.