BY: NADIA ZAIDI
I’m surprised that Robots haven’t yet replaced humans. From jobs to performance, they have beaten us at our own game. Ironically, humans make them, and apparently a little too well. You don’t need a surgeon’s steady hand to perform delicate surgeries anymore – at least with this latest robotic system that is apt enough to perform a standard colonoscopy.
Researchers unveiled the first robot to be able to perform this procedure. Physicians and biomedical engineers developed the system, which consists of an electronic capsule robot that can be placed inside the colon (along with a tether for biopsies) while it is guided by magnets outside the body. The capsule is 18 millimetres wide and three-quarters of an inch long. It’s also able to remove polyps or perform biopsies.
Colonoscopies are notoriously invasive and most people are deterred from them. The procedure was designed to be more comfortable for the patient, and encourage people to undergo this invasive procedure. This design is smaller in diameter than an endoscope, which is used in colonoscopy procedures.
The external magnet pulls the capsule, which avoids the immense physical pressure that is often placed on a patient’s colon in traditional practice where a physician pushes the colonoscope from the behind. Perhaps the biggest benefit of this technology is the elimination of sedation or pain medication.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American adults. A colonoscopy is extremely vital to preventing colorectal cancer, as it can detect cancerous polyps that may be removed during the exam.
In the end, these robots are potentially saving tons of money, resources and human labour. I just don’t know how trustworthy it is. I mean, aren’t there some things that require a human touch? If technology is this good, then how come we’re still pumping our own gas and bathing ourselves?
Now on to what most of us are wondering: how do they know this works?
Well, the team performed 30 colonoscopies on pigs and will begin trials on humans by the end of 2018. Until then, you can expect uncomfortable colonoscopies and avoidance strategies.