Colonoscopies Made Less Invasive, With the Mermaid

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News Posted: Sun, Jun 26 2011 3:17 PM
Colonoscopies are somewhat shunned for the obvious reason: no one looks forward to a doctor snaking a camera on a flexible tube (an endoscope) through their colon (via the obvious entry point) to look for polyps or worse. A new self-propelled device known as a "Mermaid" might make the procedure less invasive, and less frightening.

The Mermaid was developed by a Japanese research team. It is only about 0.4 inches in diameter and slightly less than 2 inches in length. It is propelled by a tail fin-like driving gear remotely controlled by an operator. Other such small devices were previously used, but relied on the motive force of a patient's digestive system to make it through the colon, which was less accurate and precise.

The Mermaid is also able to traverse the entire digestive tract, meaning both the stomach and small intestine could be examined, in addition to the colon. The entry point for the Mermaid can be from "either direction." " The device is capable of taking two images per second, and its driving gear is powered by an electromagnet, controlled by the operator's joystick.

One problem with the whole thing is that while many people are afraid of the standard colonoscopy procedure, those who have experienced it know that the worst part isn't the colonoscopy itself. Instead, it's the cleaning out of your colon (it must be squeaky clean so that polyps can be identified) via a flushing procudure. 'Nuff said?
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LBowen replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 3:32 AM

That is pretty awesome and it just gave me a flashback of that movie "Innerspace". As for people not looking forward to colonoscopies it's better to be safe than sorry or worse.

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fat78 replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 3:45 AM

I heard of these while studying how robots help in the medical field. The cool thing I found out was the tail was designed with the help of sperm tails. Unlike fish, sperm rotate there tails to move.( I am probably the who thinks that is interesting)

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Always nice to see medical technology progress. It won't be long before we have nanobots doing this type of job. hopefully this tech though will get more people to actually go through with the procedure.

@fat78 I actually also find random information like that interesting as well :)

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rrplay replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 7:54 AM

if there is a article in HH to encourage some preventative health care,changes in life style this is one of them..

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My grandmother never had a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with colon cancer 2 months ago.

Good to see devices like this coming to market. I hear a colon checkup she be done at the age of 50.

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gibbersome replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 11:30 AM

Well, I suppose if it gets stuck you'd just pass it back out...

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Inspector replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 12:01 PM

LOL gibbersome, thats one way to get it :D

Pretty neat and hopefully easy to insert :)

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That's a pretty cool device! However, it takes pictures rather than HD video. Perhaps in later versions, our innards will be HD video! :)

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jonation replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 2:20 PM

at this point, i'll take anything over the finger

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Well, well, this could lead to some interesting terms in the medical field. I think it's a cool little robot, but two things having to do with human waste, both from the Japanese in such a short amount of time, has me wondering what their focus is over there. lol

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AKwyn replied on Mon, Jun 27 2011 8:29 PM

Nobody knows, but I'm surprised that you can do basically anything in Japan and it'd be acceptable.

Anyway, even though it may be creepy; at least it'll help doctors in some way. I mean something that takes pictures of your innards, it's especially useful to doctors.


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