A central issue in healthcare is the difficulty to access specific sites inside the body for diagnosis or intervention with minimal invasiveness and risk to the patient. The ideal solution to this problem would be miniature self-mobile devices which can move to specific sites to capture images, deliver medication, or perform interventional procedures. Advances in miniaturization have produced commercially available, FDA approved, wireless endoscope capsules containing cameras, illumination, electronics, and radio data communications, which can record imagery of the gastrointestinal tract as they pass through by the digestive process, however these cannot as yet be controlled to move actively to specific sites with a given orientation. We propose the development and demonstration of a capsule endoscope with omnidirectional self-propulsion capabilities inside the gastrointestinal tract, using external electromagnetic coils and sensors to generate finely controlled forces and torques on the capsule, and detect its position and orientation. This research will take advantage of our laboratory experience in magnetic levitation with control of translation and rotation of permanent magnet platforms, in any direction and orientation, over large motion ranges in translation and unlimited rotation ranges. Although magnetic actuation for medical applications is a rapidly advancing research topic, existing approaches for endoscope capsule propulsion have severe limitations in manipulability and/or motion range, and typically cannot control position and orientation independently to position and point a miniature camera or to grasp tissue at a desired location. The novel and innovative features of the proposed methods are that translation and rotation can be controlled independently in all directions in force, position, or impedance, force and torque feedback can be provided to a teleoperation console during operation, and no robot arm or other cumbersome hardware is needed other than compact arrays of electromagnetic coils and sensors.
The specific aims of this work are to (1) design and fabricate an electromagnetic endoscope propulsion system to maximize its operation range, capsule maneuverability, and positioning accuracy inside the gastrointestinal tract, (2) formulate and implement capsule propulsion control and navigation methods with a user teleoperation interface, and (3) test and validate the system operation using anatomical models and animal specimens. These proposed capsule endoscope propulsion methods can potentially provide novel diagnostic capabilities in healthcare, such as controlled imaging, biopsy, and other sensing in desired locations and orientations, and interventional therapy such as targeted drug delivery or tissue cutting in otherwise inaccessible anatomy.
The proposed work is to enable capsule endoscopes and other miniature medical devices to be accurately positioned and oriented inside the gastrointestinal tract using non-contact electromagnetic actuation and position sensing. This research will potentially contribute towards many novel technologies in medical diagnosis and intervention inside the body in addition to capsule endoscopy, such as catheter steering, targeted drug delivery, precise implant positioning, and mobile micro-robot motion inside vessels and enclosed volumes, and through tissues, fluids, or open spaces.