Feeds

German docs develop remote-control stomach submarine

Modded colon-intruder dispenses with tentacle

High performance access to file storage

Boffins in Germany were chuffed indeed yesterday, as they announced successful trials of the latest medi-tech development: swallowable, remote controlled video-cam "capsule" submarines, able to probe a patient's guts without the need for an intrusive umbilical cable running down the throat or up the bottom.

Thus far, docs needing a good look at the inside of someone's stomach, intestines etc have employed two methods: the mainstream one involves use of a conventional endoscope, in effect a flexible tentacle periscope inserted at one end of the alimentary canal or the other.

Naturally enough this tactic causes a certain amount of disquiet among patients (as the researchers put it, "some view endoscopy as uncomfortable, and worry about low patient compliance").

One possible technique is the use of swallowed, battery-powered capsule cameras, transmitting their imagery wirelessly. The trouble with this is that simply allowing the point of view to be dictated by the action of the patient's guts makes it hard to tell what's being filmed or where, and in general the medics have no real idea what coverage has been achieved, especially in the comparatively large arena of the stomach. ("Capsule endoscopies have shown that visualization of the stomach is highly variable".)

Similarly, wireless cam-probes have also been developed for deployment at the other end of the digestive system, but these have perhaps understandably achieved less, erm, takeup. ("A wireless colon capsule for visualizing the colon for screening purposes has been developed, but is not currently FDA approved").

This situation made Doktor Jutta Kella of the Hamburg uni internal-medicine department and her colleagues mad, and they decided to do something about it. Enter the steerable, manoeuvrable, miniature unmanned stomach-submarine.

“To address the problems with a conventional capsule endoscope in visualizing the stomach, a new tool for maneuvering the capsule using an external handheld magnet was developed, allowing targeted investigation of all regions of the stomach,” says Kella.

The magno-directed wireless stomach submarine was apparently assembled by taking a standard colon-intruder unit and adding magnetic discs to create a dirigible tum-prowler capsule. This was tried out on 10 healthy volunteers in Hamburg. In order to get their stomachs to unfurl for easier viewing they swallowed sherbet powder along with the magnetised belly probes, causing the normally partially-collapsed, wrinkly digestive sacs to inflate like balloons.

According to Kella and her colleagues, their kit was capable of outloading pictures at four frames per second, providing real-time imagery from inside the test subjects' bodies.

“The aim of our study was to evaluate the safety and feasibility of the magnetic maneuvering of a capsule endoscope in a human stomach. We found that the magnetic maneuvering of the capsule was safe and very well-tolerated, with excellent responsiveness of the capsule to movements of the outer magnet so that detailed visualization of the gastric mucosa could be achieved," says the good Doktor.

Full details of the experiments are disclosed in Kella and her colleagues' scholarly report, published here by the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (subscription link). ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.