Endoscopes small cameras or optic fibres that are usually attached to flexible tubing designed to investigate the interior of the body can be dangerously invasive. Procedures often require sedative medications and some recovery time. Now a researcher at Tel Aviv University is developing a "capsule endoscope" that can move through the digestive tract to detect problems independent of any attachments.
According to Dr. Gabor Kosa of TAU's School of Mechanical Engineering, the project is inspired by an endoscopic capsule designed for use in the small intestine. But unlike the existing capsule, which travels at random and snaps pictures every half second to give doctors an overall view of the intestines, the new "wireless" capsules will use the magnetic field of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and electronic signals manipulated by those operating the capsule to forge a more precise and deliberate path.
It's a less invasive and more accurate way for doctors to get an important look at the digestive tract, where difficult-to-diagnose tumors or wounds may be hidden, or allow for treatments such as biopsies or local drug delivery. The technology, which was recently reported in Biomedical Microdevices, was developed in collaboration with Peter Jakab, an engineer from the Surgical Planning Laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, affiliated with Harvard Medical School.
Swimming with the current
What sets this endoscope apart is its ability to actively explore the digestive tract under the direction of a doctor. To do this, the device relies on the magnetic field of the MRI machine as a "driving force," says Dr. Kosa. "An MRI has a very large constant magnetic field," he explains. "The capsule needs to navigate according to this field, like a sailboat sailing with the wind."
In order to help the capsules "swim" with the magnetic current, the researchers have given them "tails," a comb
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University