Robotic versus manual control in magnetic steering of an endoscopic capsule

Endoscopy. 2010 Feb;42(2):148-52. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1243808. Epub 2009 Dec 16.


Background and study aims: Capsular endoscopy holds promise for the improved inspection of the gastrointestinal tract. However, this technique is limited by a lack of controlled capsule locomotion. Magnetic steering has been proposed by the main worldwide suppliers of commercial capsular endoscopes and by several research groups. The present study evaluates and discusses how robotics may improve diagnostic outcomes compared with manual magnetic steering of an endoscopic capsule.

Materials and methods: An endoscopic capsule prototype incorporating permanent magnets was deployed in an ex vivo colon segment. An operator controlled the external driving magnet manually or with robotic assistance. The capsule was maneuvered through the colon, visualizing and contacting targets installed on the colon wall. Procedure completion time and number of targets reached were collected for each trial to quantitatively compare manual versus robotic magnetic steering ( T-test analysis with P = 0.01). Then, through a set of in vivo animal trials, the efficacy of both approaches was qualitatively assessed.

Results: In ex vivo conditions, robotic-assisted control was superior to manual control in terms of targets reached (87 % +/- 13 % vs 37 % +/- 14 %). Manual steering demonstrated faster trial completion time (201 +/- 24 seconds vs 423 +/- 48 seconds). Under in vivo conditions, the robotic approach confirmed higher precision of movement and better reliability compared with manual control.

Conclusions: Robotic control for magnetic steering of a capsular endoscope was demonstrated to be more precise and reliable than manual operation. Validation of the proposed robotic system paves the way for automation of capsular endoscopy and advanced endoscopic techniques.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capsule Endoscopy / methods*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endoscopes, Gastrointestinal / standards*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Magnetics / instrumentation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Robotics / instrumentation*
  • Swine