Robot Swarm Performs Colonoscopy And Biopsy

I have to say I have my doubts about this procedure as an alternative to colonoscopy.


(Robot swarm microgrippers perform colonoscopy)

At Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, David Gracias and his colleagues have developed microgrippers—star-shaped devices that can measure less than 500 micrometers from tip to tip. The grippers can be made of materials that respond to environmental factors such as temperature, pH, and even enzymes. A temperature-sensitive gripper’s arms will close when exposed to the body’s heat. If placed well, the arms will close around tissue, performing a miniature biopsy.

Such grippers might provide a less invasive way to screen for colon cancer in patients who suffer from chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. Today, Gracias says, such screening can involve taking dozens of samples with forceps, in an effort to get good statistical coverage of the interior surface of the colon. Instead, a doctor could insert hundreds or thousands of microgrippers into the colon through a tube and then retrieve them using a magnet or, later, by sifting through the patient’s stool.

Based on tests in live pigs, Gracias’s team estimates that about one-third of the grippers capture tissue. Others may come up empty-handed because they have the wrong orientation or close before reaching anything. But he says this approach, which minimizes the cost and maximizes the ease of manufacturing, could be powerful.

“The typical idea has been that you have one device that you guide precisely [to perform a] surgical procedure,” Gracias says. His strategy borrows a page from the imperfect world of biology: “If you have a large number of not-perfect devices, you may be able to achieve the same functionality as one perfect one.”

These microgrippers bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the cookie-cutters from Neal Stephenson's 1995 novel The Diamond Age.

Microscopic invaders were more of the threat nowadays. Just to name one example, there was ... the Seven Minute Special, a tiny aerodynamic capsule that burst open on impact and released a thousand or so corpuscle-sized bodies, known colloquially as cookie-cutters, into the victim's bloodstream. It took about seven minutes ... for the cookie cutters to be randomly distributed throughout the victim's organs and limbs.

A cookie-cutter was shaped like an aspirin tablet ... two tiny centrifuges. Detonation dissolved the bonds holding the centrifuges together so that each of a thousand or so ballisticules suddenly flew outward...
(Read more about cookie-cutters)

If long-time Technovelgy readers think that this story seems familiar, you're right; I wrote about Microgrippers Grab, Cut Tissue Internally in 2008. Technovelgy readers always have one foot in the future!

Via IEEE Spectrum.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/29/2015)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.

Watch What People Are Seeing Via Brain Scanning
'had managed to see through the other man's eyes as the other man, all unaware, washed their Zis limousine sixteen hundred meters away...' - Cordwainer Smith, 1958.

PRIMA Bionic Vision Restoration
'The VISOR... was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight...'

Targeted Neuroplasticity Training For 'Downloading Skills'
'I know kung-fu.'

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Orwell's Memory Hole Looms Larger Thanks To Nvidia
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'

Pipefish Robot Checks Pipes Cheap
Just like capsule endoscopy, but for bigger pipes. That go underground.

Nifty New SDS Space Debris Sensor For ISS
'Their radars... could easily pinpoint the debris of the early Space Age.'

NanoRacks Space Station Module Concept Validated
Space junk into space architecture.

Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'

SciFiQ Science Fiction Writing Aid
'Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.'

Robot Only Faster, Not Better, At Recycling
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off... it puts whatever it is in the hopper outside your window.'

Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.'

Dream Of Building Your Own Rocket?
Fiorello Bodoni, you inspire all of us.

Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?

Elon Musk Fears A 'Fleet-Wide Hack' Of Autonomous Vehicles
'Khan grinned. 'It's alive! Bu-wahhahahah!''

China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'

iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.

Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'

Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.

RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.