A team of researchers invented a robot which can perform colonoscopies. The robot is autonomous and, besides from helping doctors detect abnormal growths on the colon, it can extract samples or even remove the polyp completely. Doctors say this procedure is less unpleasant than a regular colonoscopy and might help more agree to undergo screening.
Making colonoscopies less painful
After they created the robot, the team performed several successful tests in a pig’s colon. Then, they presented the device at a conference on Digestive Disease Week. They described how the robot can perform complex maneuvers while inside the colon, making it effective in detecting abnormalities but, at the same time, less uncomfortable than other screening techniques.
The robot measures 18 millimeters, also has a tether, and it is inserted through the rectum, too. However, the tether is softer and much smaller than those used during a regular colonoscopy, which makes it less scary for the patients. Also, it allows the presence of other instruments which can perform suction or irrigation, for example.
The robot can also intervene on the tumor
Besides, the robot is not only used for observation. Apart from providing images from the colon, the device can help doctors apply diagnoses on spot, as it can collect samples for biopsies or, if the growth is not malignant, it can remove it by using the tether.
The device can be controlled by using a magnet placed on a robotic arm. Also, it is connected to a software which allows the doctors to intervene when removing a polyp or performing certain therapeutic maneuvers. One such maneuver is retroflexion, when the robot has to turn upside down and capture images of the wall behind it.
Researchers are optimistic about the future of this robot. They hope that it might help patients be more relaxed about colonoscopies and, therefore, agree to undergo this screening technique which might save their life. After successful pig trials, the next step is human testing.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons