Small bowel soft robotic motile enteroscope (SOFTIE)

Year of award: 2019


  • Prof sir Alfred Cuschieri

    University of Dundee, United Kingdom

Project summary

Difficulties in establishing diagnosis of small bowel (SB) disorders, prevented effective treatment. This problem was resolved by rigid wireless capsule endoscopy (WCE), which rapidly became the gold standard SB investigation in routine clinical practice. Patients are required to swallow the WCE pill, which tumbles down and provides imaging of the inside of the SB. Despite their benefit, WCE has several limitations: the lack of active locomotion can result in incomplete examination, capsule retention and impaction within strictures. The SOFTIE project aims to replace the rigid WCE with a soft segmented narrower mini-robot (easier to swallow) with intrinsic locomotion produced by vibrating motors. The device will be equipped with HD CMOS camera imaging system with LED-lighting, enabling full and complete enteroscopy. In the small bowel SOFTIE will rely on its on-board power supply and RF communication with a wireless external portable console. SOFTIE will avoid all the documented complications of WCE devices. Prof Sir Alfred Cuschieri and his engineering team at the Institute for Medical Science and Technology (IMSaT), assisted by two clinical colleagues at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee (Mr Afshin Alijani and Dr Craig Mowat) will produce a proof of concept working prototype which will undergo testing by experiments in an in-vitro porcine small bowel model.