Technology & Engineering

Robotic Capsule Endoscope for GI Tract Inspection

The capsule endoscope (CE) has revolutionised GI tract inspection. Traditional endoscopy required a camera on the end of a cable to be inserted into the patient, with understandable anxiety prior to the procedure, additional risk during the procedure and considerable discomfort both during and afterwards. In contrast, CEs are pill-like miniature cameras, taken orally like any pill medication in an easy and angst-free manner, prior to travelling through the body and imaging the GI tract with minimal discomfort. Using these images, clinicians can make routine diagnoses of a range of diseases, including bowel cancer, Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis, to name a few.

However, CEs travel through the digestive system in a passive manner. This limits the utility of the device in terms of speed, positioning and overall control. To address this problem, a capsule endoscope capable of locomotion has been developed by researchers at Queen Mary University of London. Using impact forces, friction in the GI tract is overcome and allows control over speed and positioning when inspecting the GI tract. Further, the underlying locomotion technology is likely applicable for delivery of other cargo, such as other miniaturised medical devices or drugs.

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