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Design, Fabrication, and Testing of a Capsule With Hybrid Locomotion for Gastrointestinal Tract Exploration

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5 Author(s)
Simi, M. ; Microengineering Lab., Scuola Superiore Sant''Anna, Pisa, Italy ; Valdastri, P. ; Quaglia, C. ; Menciassi, A.
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This paper describes a novel solution for the active locomotion of a miniaturized endoscopic capsule in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The authors present the design, development, and testing of a wireless endocapsule with hybrid locomotion, where hybrid locomotion is defined as the combination between internal actuation mechanisms and external magnetic dragging. The capsule incorporates an internal actuating legged mechanism, which modifies the capsule profile, and small permanent magnets, which interact with an external magnetic field, thus imparting a dragging motion to the device. The legged mechanism is actuated whenever the capsule gets lodged in collapsed areas of the GI tract. This allows modification of the capsule profile and enables magnetic dragging to become feasible and effective once again. A key component of the endoscopic pill is the internal mechanism, endowed with a miniaturized brushless motor and featuring compact design, and adequate mechanical performance. The internal mechanism is able to generate a substantial force, which allows the legs to open against the intestinal tissue that has collapsed around the capsule body. An accurate simulation of the performance of the miniaturized motor under magnetic fields was carried out in order to define the best configuration of the internal permanent magnets (which are located very close to the motor) and the best tradeoff operating distance for the external magnet, which is responsible for magnetically dragging the capsule. Finally, a hybrid capsule was developed generating 3.8 N at the tip of the legged mechanism and a magnetic link force up to 135 mN. The hybrid capsule and its wireless control were extensively tested in vitro, ex vivo , and in vivo, thus confirming fulfilment of the design specifications and demonstrating a good ability to manage collapsed areas of the intestinal tract.

Published in:

Mechatronics, IEEE/ASME Transactions on  (Volume:15 ,  Issue: 2 )

Date of Publication:

April 2010

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