Navigating flexible endoscopes

Name: Nanda van der Stap
Organisation: Robotics and Mechatronics, MIRA institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, Twente University

Flexible endoscopes are long, flexible tubes with a camera at the tip and are widely used in medical applications. A trend exists towards minimally invasive surgical procedures, and flexible endoscopes are the instruments of choice for complex intraluminal interventions. However, the difficult steering mechanism causes these procedures to last a long time, and some procedures even are technologically impossible at the moment. In addition, flexible endoscopes are used for examination of organs, such as the large bowel (in colonoscopy). The goal of such an examination is to inspect the organ from the inside, mostly to detect and remove lesions. In the colon, these lesions are called ‘polyps’, and they can develop into colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy takes a long time to master, mostly because of the difficult steering mechanism of colonoscopes. The recently started nationwide screening program for colorectal cancer makes fast and efficient colonoscopies more important than ever.

With our research we attempt to make the steering of endoscopes easier. We do this by designing and testing a telemanipulated robotized endoscopy system. In addition, artificial intelligence (computer vision algorithms) is added to reach a more autonomous system. Aim is to make endoscopes easier to steer, and thus enable more procedures, but also more complex procedures. Moreover, our solution is designed to not cost more than one flexible endoscope costs.

Project partners:

  • Robotics and Mechatronics - MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands
  • Demcon - high-tech mechatronic systems and products, Oldenzaal, The Netherlands
  • Meander Medical Center - Amersfoort, The Netherlands
  • Academic Medical Center – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Picture of the speaker