Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH; Boston, MA, USA) have successfully tested a controllable endoscopic capsule that could be used to take diagnostic images as it travels through the body.
Once inside the patient's digestive track, a doctor would be able to "steer" the capsule through the body using an MRI machine, photograph specific areas of interest, and view the pictures wirelessly.
With current endoscopic capsule technology, a capsule tumbles randomly through the digestive track and clinicians have no control over what areas of the body are being photographed. The ability to steer a capsule, aim a camera, and take pictures of specific areas of concern is a major leap forward and has broad medical implications.
Noby Hata, a researcher in the Department of Radiology at BWH and leader of the development team for the endoscopic capsule, said the researchers' goal was to develop the capsule so that it could be used to deliver images in real time, and allow clinicians to make a diagnosis during a single procedure with little discomfort or risk to a patient.
In the future, the researchers would like to enable the capsule to be able to deliver drugs or provide other treatments -- even laser surgery -- directly to tumors or injuries within the digestive track.
BWH researchers Hata and his colleague Peter Jakab have successfully tested a prototype of the capsule in an MRI machine and proved that the capsule can be manipulated to "swim" through a tank of water. The next step is to successfully test the capsule inside a human body.
-- By Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design