Development and in vitro testing of a miniature robotic system for computer-assisted colonoscopy

Paolo Dario, Maria Chiara Carrozza, Andrea Pietrabissa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we present a new concept for computer-assisted colonoscopy based on a miniature robot capable of propelling itself semiautonomously along the colon. The miniature robot is designed to perform the same functions as current colonoscopy systems - i.e., visualization and tissue sampling for biopsy - and exploits an innovative inchworm-like locomotion principle based on adhering to the colon wall by vacuum suction. The miniature robot is connected by a thin and flexible umbilical cable to an external control unit; this unit provides pneumatic actuation signals in the appropriate sequence to the miniature robot, and information on the robot's functioning to the endoscopist, who can either teleoperate or directly supervise its operation. A prototype colonoscopy system using this robot has been fabricated and tested in vitro, with promising results. The proposed concept has strong potential for further development, since miniaturization and functional integration of instrumentation and tools, together with computer assistance, not only make colonoscopy more acceptable, but can also open up a wide range of new applications in endoluminal diagnosis, therapy, and surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalComputer Aided Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Colonoscopy
  • Endoscopy
  • Medical robotics
  • Microengineering
  • Microsystems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Surgery
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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