Surgical Applications of Compliant Mechanisms - A Review

Theodosia Lourdes Thomas*, V. Kalpathy Venkiteswaran, G.K. Ananthasuresh, S. Misra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)
696 Downloads (Pure)


Current surgical devices are mostly rigid and are made of stiff materials, even though their predominant use is on soft and wet tissues. With the emergence of compliant mechanisms (CMs), surgical tools can be designed to be flexible and made using soft materials. CMs offer many advantages like monolithic fabrication, high precision, no wear, no friction and no need for lubrication. It is therefore beneficial to consolidate the developments in this field and point to challenges ahead. With this objective, in this paper, we review the application of CMs to surgical interventions. The scope of the review covers five aspects that are important in the development of surgical devices: (i) conceptual design and synthesis, (ii) analysis, (iii) materials, (iv) manufacturing, and (v) actuation. Furthermore, the surgical applications of CMs are assessed by classification into five major groups, namely, (i) grasping and cutting, (ii) reachability and steerability, (iii) transmission, (iv) sensing, (v) implants and deployable devices. The scope and prospects of surgical devices using CMs are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number020801
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of mechanisms and robotics
Issue number2
Early online date22 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • 22/2 OA procedure
  • Actuators and transmissions
  • Bio-inspired design
  • Cable-driven mechanisms
  • Compliant mechanisms
  • Folding and origami
  • Grasping and fixturing
  • Mechanism design
  • Mechanism synthesis
  • Medical robotics
  • Microscale mechanisms and robotics
  • Robot design


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