Needle insertion is a common surgical technique used in diagnosis (e.g. biopsy) and prognosis (e.g. brachytherapy) of several diseases. The success of such procedures highly depends on the accuracy of needle placement to target locations. Accuracy of the needle placement is presently limited due to movement of tissue, inability to control needle deflection, and inaccessibility of image monitoring techniques. These limitations are being addressed by using active (or smart) needles (e.g. see Fig. 1) that can maneuver within the tissue with the aid of actuators attached to the needle body [1–3]. However, in these studies, active needles were studied in air but not inside the tissue where they are supposed to be used. Therefore, to develop active needles that are feasible for clinical applications, it is necessary to understand the mechanics of active needles within the tissue.

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