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Wireless Mermaid Endoscope

Wireless Mermaid Endoscope

The Mermaid, a small wireless endoscope for better examination of the digestive tract…

Traditional endoscopes, with their intimidating steel probes and long tubes, could be no more. Researchers from Ryukoku University and Osaka Medical College in Japan have devised a wireless, self-propelled capsule endoscope that can be controlled remotely.

The new device, nicknamed the Mermaid, is less than half-an-inch in diameter and just two inches long. It uses a magnetic propulsion system to move through the body, and has a fin-like driving gear that enables the operator to steer the device to spot diseases such as cancer.

The Mermaid can be swallowed or inserted rectally for examination of the stomach or colon, where its on-board cameras can snap two pictures every second.

While the trip from end to (errr) end, takes around 2 hours, the Mermaids camera battery lasts for 8 – 10 hours, allowing it to perform more advance analysis depending on the patient’s needs.

The Mermaid is not the first type of ingestible cameras to be tested, however all previous versions relied on muscle contractions to move them through the body. The new device marks the first time anyone has had success in moving a self-propelled endoscope from the esophagus to the colon.

The first tests on the Mermaid were carried out on Dogs back in 2009. Trials in humans are currently underway, although there’s no word of when the device can be expected to hit the market.


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  1. Self-propelled endoscope shoots images inside stomach, colon. The Manichi Daily News, 06/21/2011.
  2. Clay Dillow: The World’s First Self-Propelled Endoscopy Device ‘Swims’ the Entire Digestive Tract in Mere Hours. Popular Science, 06/22/2011.
  3. Wouter Stomp: Mermaid, the Swimming Capsule Endoscope. Medgadget, 06/22/2011.

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