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Snake-Like Robotic Colonoscopy Device Developed

First Posted: Mar 30, 2017 03:37 AM EDT
Snake-Like Robotic Colonoscopy Device Developed
The robotic device can be propelled forward and backward and can also collect tissue samples.
(Photo : MD Anderson Cancer Center/YouTube screenshot)

Inserting a camera-fit tube into the digestive system to visualize and identify any blockages or ulcers is a practice that has been used for quite some time. Though the conventional method is highly advantageous, its inaccessibility to the small intestine has been a major issue for gastroenterologists.

The pill cameras could enhance the accessibility. However, it takes around 12 hours for the pill to pass through the entire digestive system. Furthermore, there are many incidents where the pill got stuck and the battery died so that no recording could be obtained.

Recently, a group of Israeli scientists have developed a new motor-propelled robotic snake-like colonoscopic device for real-time monitoring. The single actuator wave-like robot (SAW) is a 3D printed device that can travel through "squishy movements." Pilot level tests have shown that the device is capable of traversing through extremely smooth and rough terrains inside the body, Zee News reported.

David Zarrouk, mechanical engineer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, who contributed in the development of the snake-like robot, explained that the device is the 2D projection of a rotating helix and moves in swift wave-like motions. The motor of the device can be controlled externally and thus the expert can guide the device in any direction required.

According to IndiaToday, the device can be ingested without any complications and can thus help in providing real-time data of the patients. Furthermore, the robot is also designed to collect and carry samples (if required for testing or biopsy) from the inside of the digestive system in a swift manner.

Experts are of the opinion that the device can help physicians to make region-specific colonoscopic analysis and track the process of drug-induced repair and regeneration of tissues at the sites of peptic or intestinal ulcers. The device represents how robotics and other allied branches of science like information technology can be most appropriately used for the development of biomedical tools and techniques.

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