Capsule manoeuvres through the body and takes pictures

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Massachusetts, have successfully tested a controllable endoscopic capsule designed to manoeuvre through the human body and take photographs.

According to a statement, the capsule is designed to be swallowed like a pill and can be equipped with a camera. Once inside the patient’s digestive tract, a doctor can steer the capsule through the body using an MRI machine, photograph specific areas of interest and view those pictures wirelessly.

With current endoscopic capsule technology, the capsule tumbles randomly through the digestive track and clinicians have no control over what areas of the body are being photographed.

The ability to steer a capsule, aim a camera and take pictures of specific areas of concern is a major leap forward with the potential for broad medical implications.

‘Our goal is to develop this capsule so that it could be used to deliver images in real time and allow clinicians to make a diagnosis during a single procedure with little discomfort or risk to the patient,’ said Noby Hata, a researcher in the Department of Radiology at BWH and leader of the development team for the endoscopic capsule. ‘Ideally, in the future we would be able to utilise this technology to deliver drugs or other treatments, such as laser surgery, directly to tumours or injuries within the digestive track.’

Hata and his colleague Peter Jakab are said to have successfully tested a prototype of their capsule in an MRI machine and proved that the capsule can be manipulated to swim through a tank of water.

The next step in their research is to successfully test the capsule inside a human body.