Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.



Degree Program

JB Speed School of Engineering

Committee Chair

Roussel, Thomas

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

El-Baz, Ayman

Committee Member

Pantalos, George

Committee Member

Sharp, Keith

Author's Keywords

Surgery; Endoscopy; Additive Manufacturing; Medical Device; Bioinstrumentation; Astrosurgery


With the possibility of longer ventures into space, NASA will face many new medical challenges. The ability to surgically treat trauma and other disorders in reduced gravity requires reliable wound access, containment, and visualization. In collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Louisville is currently developing the AISS (Aqueous Immersion Surgical System) to increase efficiency and control of the operative field in space-based surgeries. Reliable wound access and containment is achieved by placing a transparent wound-isolation dome securely over the wound-site and pressurizing it with a saline solution. Leak-free trocars provide access ports for various surgical instruments. This system will prevent contamination of the environment from blood and other bodily fluids, control bleeding, provide a sterile microenvironment for surgical intervention, and maintain visualization of the operative field.

The objective of this project is to develop a Multifunctional Surgical Device (MFSD) that is compatible will the AISS system and conventional ground-based surgical techniques. Economy and efficiency of instrument exchange are necessary given the limited resources and number of crew members on an exploration space flight. The MFSD aims to provide suction, irrigation, illumination, visualization, and cautery functionality through a single-instrument via finger-tip control. This multifunctionality will reduce intraoperative blood loss and help maintain visualization of the operative field by removing blood and debris. Also, the MFSD will help preserve surgical focus and minimize surgeon manual movement and instrument exchanges. Applicability of the MFSD for ground-based surgical procedures is also anticipated.

This project has been successful in developing a multifunctional device that integrates suction, irrigation, and illumination. Testing of these three functions has been performed on the benchtop and in a live-animal model using a stand-alone control system. After completing the myRIO integration of the MFSD with the Fluid Management System (FMS), further testing will allow for validation of device functionality and efficacy with the AISS. Future work for this project will include preparing for a suborbital space flight of the AISS on the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo planned for later 2018. This flight test will evaluate irrigating, illuminating, and suctioning analog blood from a simulated wound-site in microgravity. The addition of cutting and coagulation cautery and visualization functions is planned for subsequent months. Earth-based development and utilization of the MFSD for surgical procedures is also anticipated.