Pneumatically Attachable Flexible (PAF) Rails for Laparoscopic Surgery

Available For: Licensing


A novel multi-purpose surgical technology for intra-operative organ imaging and safe organ manipulation.

The Technology and its Advantages

Robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy (RAPN) is the second most common robotic-assisted surgical procedure. Performed laparoscopically, ie. via keyhole surgery, a portion of a kidney is removed to prevent the spreading of the tumour to healthy tissue. To define the margins for resection intra-operative ultrasound (US) scanning is performed using small probes passed through standard trocar ports. After insertion, the probe is the grasped with a robotic tool and swiped on the surface of the kidney to identify the margins for resection and these are marked with an electro-cautery tool. Because of the morphology of the kidney there are two main challenges faced by clinicians:

• ensuring constant contact between the probe and the surface of the organ while swiping to obtain good quality US images to correctly identify the resection margins;

• moving the organ without damaging it while performing imaging and resection.

The PAF rails, are disposable mechanical interfaces made of medical-grade silicone developed to tackle both these challenges in RAPN as in other similar laparoscopic procedures. This is possible thanks to three main design features (illustrated in Figure 1):

1. a line of vacuum actuated suckers to attach the system on the surface of the targeted organ;

2. a rail-like structure running along the whole length of the system to allow to mechanically pair the US probe with the targeted surface to scan;

3. a fin-like structure on the side opposite to the suction line to enable organ manipulation

The system also includes a custom connector to retrofit to commercially available drop-in US probes eg. BK X12C4.

Market Opportunity

The PAF rails have been initially developed for RAPN. However, thanks to their versatile design, they can be employed for organ manipulation in general laparoscopic surgery because of their fin-like interface. Their rail-like profile has been designed to pair with standard drop-in US probes retrofitted with custom connectors. The design can be easily tailored to other sensing modalities requiring close and constant proximity to the targeted organ/tissue surface, such as optical endomicroscopy, or even to guide active surgical tools.

Intellectual Property Status

A PCT patent application number PCT/GB2019/051463 has been filed.

Further Information

Please contact Dr Weng Sie Wong, Senior Business Manager |T: +44 (0)20 7679 9000 | E:

The technology referred to herein is experimental in nature and UCL Business Ltd makes no representations and gives no warranties of any kind, either express or implied, in relation to the technology and, in particular but without limiting the foregoing, UCL Business Ltd gives no express or implied warranties of merchantability, satisfactory quality or fitness for a particular purpose.