The development of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) compatible optically-actuated active needle for guided percutaneous surgery and biopsy procedures is described. Electrically passive MRI-compatible actuation in the small diameter needle is provided by non-magnetic materials including a shape memory alloy (SMA) subject to precise fiber laser operation that can be from a remote (e.g., MRI control room) location. Characterization and optimization of the needle is facilitated using optical fiber Bragg grating (FBG) temperature sensors arrays. Active bending of the needle during insertion allows the needle to be accurately guided to even relatively small targets in an organ while avoiding obstacles and overcoming undesirable deviations away from the planned path due to unforeseen or unknowable tissue interactions. This feature makes the needle especially suitable for use in image-guided surgical procedures (ranging from MRI to CT and ultrasound) when accurate targeting is imperative for good treatment outcomes. Such interventions include reaching small tumors in biopsies, delineating freezing areas in, for example, cryosurgery and improving the accuracy of seed placement in brachytherapy. Particularly relevant are prostate procedures, which may be subject to pubic arch interference. Combining diagnostic imaging and actuation assisted biopsy into one treatment can obviate the need for a second exam for guided biopsy, shorten overall procedure times (thus increasing operating room efficiencies), address healthcare reimbursement constraints and, most importantly, improve patient comfort and clinical outcomes.