Ingestible video capsules enable today non-invasive and comfortable gastrointestinal explorations. As such, capsule endoscopy is progressively emerging as an attractively simple wireless technology for optical investigations of the digestive tube and, in particular, as a useful complementary diagnostic tool with respect to traditional probe endoscopy. In spite of this, capsule endoscopes still show at present a major technical lack, capable of seriously limiting their clinical efficacy: their motion cannot be controlled by an external operator. In fact, the lack of a navigation control system makes their movements and orientations totally random, being exclusively driven by visceral peristalsis and gravity. In order to provide motion control properties, a technique based on the application of external magnetic fields, capable of manoeuvring a capsule previously equipped with a magnetic component, was recently proposed. This paper presents preliminary results of the first experimental implementation of this concept with a magnetic robotic system recently introduced in the clinical practice, although for different applications in the field of cardiology. The potentialities offered by this robotic system for magnetic controls of gastrointestinal capsules were preliminarily assessed in this work with manoeuvring tests of a video capsule inside a plastic replica of a human bust. Results showed the possibility of magnetically guiding the navigation of an endoscopic capsule within the considered experimental set-up, by advantageously using the reliable robotic navigation system already employed for clinical applications. Such an outcome encourages further investigations within more challenging experimental conditions.
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