The magnetic flexible endoscope team have just published their latest work entitled ‘Robotic Autonomy for Magnetic Endoscope Biopsy’ to IEEE Transactions on Medical Robotics and Bionics.

Tissue biopsies taken during colonoscopy are important to aid in the early detection of diseases such as colorectal cancer, Crohn’s and Ulcerated Colitis. Using our magnetic endoscope, developed to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with colonoscopy, we present a system to automatically detect tissue and perform semi-autonomous biopsy using robotic control. Using our magnetic localisation system, we use image processing to compute the distance to the tissue target, and autonomously align the endoscope to the target so that a biopsy can be taken with ease. Using autonomy, we are able to reduce the burden placed on the user, allowing biopsies to be taken with less mental and physical workload. We show our semi-autonomous approach can consistently perform targeted and random quadrant biopsies, in a time comparable to a standard flexible endoscope.

With these results, we build on the clinical viability of robotic colonoscopy, which we hope can increase the number of providers who are able to perform the procedure and allow for greater patient access to colonoscopy.