A reel mechanism-based robotic colonoscope with high safety and maneuverability

Abstract

Background

At present, the colonoscopy is the most common method of screening for colorectal cancer. However, endoscopists still encounter difficulties with intubation, primarily due to the structural diversity (e.g., path, shape, and size) and viscoelasticity of the colon. Therefore, well-trained, skillful operators are required to overcome these factors and operate colonoscopes without harming patients.

Objectives

In our previous work, we presented a reel mechanism-based robotic colonoscope designed to mitigate the difficulties of conventional colonoscopies. Although we reported excellent mobile performance with respect to the robot, we did not provide an in-depth discussion concerning patient safety. Therefore, in this article, we propose a method of improving robot safety, and this is verified by investigating the static and dynamic forces acting on the colon. In addition, the maneuverability and safety of the robot in the in vitro condition are evaluated.

Methods

The safety solution is provided by covering the robot’s legs with silicone. To evaluate the results, the reaction force according to leg deformation is measured. Then, the force transmitted to the colon is also measured when the robot moves through various environments. Finally, a mobility test on an excised porcine colon is performed to simultaneously verify the robot’s maneuverability and safety.

Results

We verify that the static and dynamic force acting on the colon is less than the burst force of a human colon. In addition, the maneuverability of the robotic colonoscope shows reliable locomotion performance even with the soft material covering the legs; it has forward velocities of 9.552 ± 1.940 mm/s on a flat path.

Conclusion

Owing to the reliable locomotion mechanism with the safety-securing silicone, the robot achieves high and reliable maneuverability without any scratches or perforations to the porcine colon.

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Correspondence to Byungkyu Kim.

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Dongkyu Lee, Seonggun Joe, Hyoeng-Seok Kang, Taeyoung An, and Byungkyu Kim declare no conflicts of interest.

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Lee, D., Joe, S., Kang, H. et al. A reel mechanism-based robotic colonoscope with high safety and maneuverability. Surg Endosc 33, 322–332 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-018-6362-2

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Keywords

  • Microrobot
  • Robotic colonoscope
  • Reel mechanism
  • High maneuverability
  • High safety
  • Locomotion test