Completed Project (2009-2016)

Research Team: Stephen Woods (PhD thesis), Timothy Constandinou

Endoscopes and colonoscopies are used routinely by gastroenterologists to diagnose and treat pathologies such as Crohn’s disease in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However the small intestine poses a problem for these conventional methods as it is very difficult to access. One method employed to overcome this problem is the use of wireless capsule endoscopes (WCE). These pill-sized cameras take pictures of the intestinal wall which are then used to diagnose pathologies. The problem with this method is that it does not offer the ability to administer therapy to an affected area.

Wireless Capsule Endoscope Concept
Swallowable microrobot capable of delivering 1 ml of targeted medication. Needle shown fully extended and the medication partially deployed

The aim of my research is to design and analyse mechanisms, which will give additional functionality to WCE to allow them to diagnose and treat pathologies of the GI tract, specifically in the small intestine. Three highly novel sub-systems will be explored for their suitability, when combined, to deliver a targeted dose of medication to a site of interest in the small intestine. The particular challenge with designing a microrobotic system which can perform a surgical procedure such as targeted drug delivery is in the allowable working envelope for the microrobot. As it is to be swallowed the microrobot requires a small package size of approximately 12.0mm diameter by 25.0mm long.

Relevant Publications