A Case Study on the Design of a Modular Surgical Instrument for Removing Metastases using Engineering Design Tools

DS 78: Proceedings of the 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE14), Design Education and Human Technology Relations, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 04-05.09.2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Arthur Eger, Wouter Eggink, Ahmed Kovacevic, Brian Parkinson, Wessel Wits
Author: Preca, George; Farrugia, Philip; Casha, Aaron
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1 Concurrent Engineering Research Unit, Faculty of Engineering, University of Malta; 2 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine & Surgery, University of Malta
Section: Reflection on Teaching
Page(s): 650-656
ISBN: 978-1-904670-56-8


Metastatic cancer is a form of cancer stemming from a primary tumour that propagates to different organs and/or to different sites within the same organ [1]. Studies have indicated that the chances of survival improve upon surgical removal of metastases [2]. The overall goal of this research was to develop a modular surgical instrument that would be easy to use and manipulate and hence facilitate resection of metastases. This research forms part of a final year project carried out by a mechanical engineering student in the four-year bachelors course at the University of Malta. The basic design cycle [3] taught in the third year of the course was employed to systematically generate the design of a novel modular surgical instrument. This was complemented by a number of hospital visits and various meetings with professionals and other stakeholders relevant to the field. Through this case-study, this paper shows how, even at a bachelors level project, the application of design tools and the continuous communication with typical end-users can lead to the development of a high-value added product which can be potentially commercialised. Other benefits of joint supervision are also discussed.

Keywords: Basic design cycle, learn-by-doing, design iterations


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