Swimming capsule endoscope now a reality

Japanese researchers develop a swimming capsule endoscope to offer images inside the stomach and colon.
Written by Stacy Lipson, Contributor

The next time you head to your doctor's office, you may want to have a talk with your doctor. According to Japanese researchers, the swimming capsule endoscope is now being used to offer images inside the stomach and colon.

The AFP reported:

‘By remotely controlling the capsule, we can precisely photograph the area which needs to be tested,’ Osaka Medical College professor Kazuhide Higuchi said.

‘It can examine the digestive canal from the oesophagus to the colon  in a few hours. It reduces burdens on patients and can led to the discovery of cancer,’ he said.

The device, which was nicknamed the "Mermaid", can snap two pictures per second, showing feedback as it swims through the digestive tract. After it's been swallowed, the device can provide power for up to 10 hours. Researchers reported to the Japanese media that the capsule was tested in the inside of a dog's stomach in 2009. Throughout the years, the capsule was tweaked until a smaller version was approved by the team.

Most endoscopes used in modern medicine have been limited towards offering doctors a full view of the digestive tract. Researchers said the device is still in the prototype process, and believe that it will take a few more years until the device can be used in a clinical setting.

Researchers did not respond back to an e-mail seeking comment.

Cool highlights:

The endoscope is 0.4 inches in diameter and 1.8 inches long

Doctors control the endoscope's movement with a joystick, and watch the movement through a monitor

The device was presented at the International Conference on Digestive Diseases

Research team: Ryukoku University and Osaka Medical College

Image: via AFP/Jiji Press

Tell us your thoughts: How would you feel about a device that swims through your digestive system? Would you feel uncomfortable during the procedure?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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