MST in Endoscopy

Fig. 11.10 The E2 self-propelling endoscope is a pneumatically controlled inchworm that moves through the colon by a sequential adhering to the bowel wall and elongating/shortening the midsection. a Inchworm with imaging head and propelling body. b High flexibility

The field of endoscopy is an interesting area for the application of MST, since high-functional integration and miniaturization, the two main characteristics of MST, are an important advantage in this field.

Besides microfiberoptics for the inspection of smallest tubular organs and body cavities, a big interest is in using MST for creating new locomotion technologies in the human body. A very good example is capsule endoscopy [9] using a miniaturized optical camera system with telemetric image data transfer integrated into an ingestible capsule. A number of MST elements are used to realize the Pill-Cam capsule endoscope of Given Imaging, Ltd., Yoqneam, Israel, such as CMOS image sensors, LED illumination diodes, imaging electronics, and telemetric signal transfer components.

Farther down the road are self-locomoting endoscopes that, unlike a capsule endoscope, can actively propel through the digestive organs and be steered into the desired direction. A good example for this class of MST applications is the E2 endoscope system of Era Endoscopy Srl, Pontedera, Italy, based on research [16] conducted by the CRIM laboratory of Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa (supported by a grant of IMC/KIST, Seoul, South Korea). The E2 self-propelling endoscope (Fig. 11.10) is a pneumatically controlled inchworm that moves through the colon by sequentially adhering to the bowel wall with its proximal and its distal end and elongating/shortening the midsection.

The MST components used for this technology besides the CMOS imaging and LED illumination include microfluidic and -filter elements to support the pneumatic locomotion mechanism. The clinical purpose behind self-propelling microendoscopes lies in the reduction of the force exerted to the tissue, thus the reduction of pain during the procedure. The clinical benefit will be improved patient acceptance of colonoscopy cancer screening programs in the future.

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