General, Research, Technology

What is a colonoscopy and how can you make it less awful?

During medical examinations, many peopleare forced to endure far from the most pleasant processes. For example, to identify certain diseases, doctors need to carefully examine the state of the internal organs of a person. For this, the so-called colonoscopy, in which the patient is injectedsemi-rigid tube with a video camera at one end. People aged 45-50 are recommended to undergo such examinations every year, but, due to discomfort, this recommendation is often ignored. But this is fraught with the fact that dangerous diseases may not be detected in time and in the future it is worse to respond to treatment. In this regard, scientists are trying to develop new technologies for examining the internal organs of people. Recently, engineers from the American state of Colorado presented a full-fledged robot that can crawl through the insides of people and practically not cause them any inconvenience.

This is how the robot that will be discussed in this article looks like.

Colonoscopy - a method of examining the human colon, in which the doctor uses an endoscope. The examination makes it possible to detect tumors and inflammatory diseases.

Bowel examination

An unusual robot scout was described inarticle published in IEEE Xplore. As mentioned above, doctors perform colonoscopy on patients to diagnose many diseases. As a rule, this method is used when there is a suspicion of bowel disease. During colonoscopy, an endoscope, which is a flexible tube with a video camera at one end, is placed in the patient's anus and pushed inward. When the bowel bends sharply, it has to be pushed with more force, so sometimes people even experience pain. To make the process at least a little easier, anesthesia is used during the diagnosis. But ideally, scientists want to make sure that the device for examining the intestine moves through the human body independently and extremely accurately.

See also: How can bacteria in the gut affect memory?

Medical Scout Robot

A group of engineers from the American state of Coloradodeveloped just such a device. According to team leader Mark Rentschler, the robot is 3 centimeters wide and 2.3 centimeters thick. The device is equipped with everything necessary for a medical examination. He has a camera for transferring the image to the doctor's computer, two LED lamps (it's dark inside a person!) And forceps for taking tissue samples for further examination in the laboratory. In addition to all this, the robot is equipped with pipes for supplying water and air, because sometimes the intestinal cavities need to be inflated, and the camera lens must be thoroughly rinsed.

The design of the developed robot

To move through the intestines, the robot usestracked drive located on the sides of the body, on which a belt with small protrusions is stretched. They provide the device with adhesion to the intestinal surface. Each belt is driven by a separate motor, so the robot can safely turn inside the human body. That is, when reaching the bends, the doctor does not need to forcefully push the tube and everything happens much more accurately. And in general, no mechanical action on the part of doctors is required, because they control the robot using a special panel.

First, the researchers tested the robotinside a live pig. They successfully used an air and water actuator to inflate the desired area of ​​the intestine and flush the camera lens. They also took tissue samples with no problem using mechanical forceps. However, the diameter of the pig's intestine was half the size of a human and the robot could not move freely, which is why the test had to be stopped. But then the researchers tested the apparatus on a separate pig intestine, which was expanded to the size of a human intestine. Inside it, the robot was able to move at a speed of 4 centimeters per second. And this, it should be noted, is an impressive result for a medical robot.

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Human testing has not yet been carried out, and even onit is too dangerous at the moment. Perhaps in the future, American engineers will be able to reduce the size of the device and make it even more maneuverable. In the meantime, they are improving their invention, I recommend reading the material about medical robots that are engaged in caring for hospital patients. Have you ever thought about whether these robots can perform such a responsible task without having a "soul"? We will talk about this.