Maximizing coupling strength of magnetically anchored surgical instruments: How thick can we go?

Sara L. Best, Richard Bergs, Makram Gedeon, Juan Paramo, Raul Fernandez, Jeffrey A Cadeddu, Daniel J Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Background: The Magnetic Anchoring and Guidance System (MAGS) includes an external magnet that controls intra-abdominal surgical instruments via magnetic attraction forces. We have performed NOTES (Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery) and LESS (Laparoendoscopic Single Site) procedures using MAGS instruments in porcine models with up to 2.5-cm-thick abdominal walls, but this distance may not be sufficient in some humans. The purpose of this study was to determine the maximal abdominal wall thickness for which the current MAGS platform is suitable. Methods: Successive iterations of prototype instruments were developed; those evaluated in this study include external (134-583 g, 38-61 mm diameter) and internal (8-39 g, 10-22 mm diameter) components using various grades, diameters, thicknesses, and stacking/shielding/focusing configurations of permanent Neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets. Nine configurations were tested for coupling strength across distances of 0.1-10 cm. The force-distance tests across an air medium were conducted at 0.5-mm increments using a robotic arm fitted with a force sensor. A minimum theoretical instrument drop-off (decoupling) threshold was defined as the separation distance at which force decreased below the weight of the heaviest internal component (39 g). Results: Magnetic attraction forces decreased exponentially over distance. For the nine configurations tested, the average forces were 3,334 ± 1,239 gf at 0.1 cm, 158 ± 98 gf at 2.5 cm, and 8.7 ± 12 gf at 5 cm; the drop-off threshold was 3.64 ± 0.8 cm. The larger stacking configurations and magnets yielded up to a 592% increase in attraction force at 2.5 cm and extended the drop-off threshold distance by up to 107% over single-stack anchors. For the strongest configuration, coupling force ranged from 5,337 gf at 0.1 cm to 0 gf at 6.95 cm and yielded a drop-off threshold distance of 4.78 cm. Conclusions: This study suggests that the strongest configuration of currently available MAGS instruments is suitable for clinically relevant abdominal wall thicknesses. Further platform development and optimization are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-159
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • LESS
  • Laparoendoscopic Single Site Surgery
  • Laparoscopy
  • MAGS
  • Magnetic Anchoring and Guidance System
  • Magnets
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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