Minimally invasive surgery – surgery that employs laparoscopic and/or robotic tools to mitigate the need for large incisions and the accompanying risks and challenges that patients face – has become ubiquitous across most surgical fields. While there is a wide variety of minimally invasive techniques and indications, these surgeries all share the use of cameras that are inserted through ports into body cavities to visualize those cavities without the need for a large opening that would otherwise provide direct visualization. One challenge faced by minimally invasive surgeons is that very often the lens of a laparoscope or robotic camera will fog up or get splashed with some fluid (e.g. blood) that obscures the surgeon’s view. In current practice, clearing the field of vision requires removing the camera to clean the lens. The camera is then re-inserted. In an of itself this process takes time, but the camera also tends to change temperature upon removal, which increases the likelihood that it fogs up upon re-insertion. If the image was obscured by something that is actively bleeding, that bleeding continues for the time it takes to remove and then re-insert the camera. Thus, this challenge is annoying, slows down the operation, and is potentially a safety concern.
We propose the development of a mechanism to clear the lens of the laparoscope without removal of the camera from the corporal cavity. A rapid, effective mechanism that can accomplish this task would be potentially transformative and of great interest to hospitals and robotics companies alike. Investigators will work closely with a general surgery resident physician, and will also have access to the perioperative spaces and stakeholders that will be able to provide insight into development of such a tool.