Wireless Insufflation


Within recent years, capsule colonoscopy has become a popular method for the diagnosis of a variety of diseases in the small intestine, but it has not yet become the tool of choice in colorectal cancer screenings. This is largely due to the fact that wireless capsule endoscopes, unlike traditional endoscopes, lack the ability to provide insufflation, which distends the intestine, giving the doctor a clear view of the internal wall of the organ being examined.

Our Research

The purpose of this research is to develop a safe and dependable method for tetherless insufflation of the colon. In order to achieve this, we created a dual compartment magnetically actuated capsule, shown in the image set below.  The dual compartments house citric acid solution in the upper chamber and powdered sodium bicarbonate in the lower chamber.  Two magnetic spheres with metal retainer rings provide mixing of the chemicals upon actuation via an external magnet.

Physical and schematic views of insufflation capsule

The capsule can currently accommodate 2ml of solution.  Upon actuation and mixing of the reagents, the gas produced is expelled through built-in exhaust ports as shown in the schematic image above.

Currently, we are conducting both ex vivo and in vivo experiments to confirm the viability of wireless insufflation in the enhancement of endoscopic capsule colonoscopy.

Spin-Off Device

A spin-off device resulting from this research is a low-cost disposable carbon dioxide insufflator for screening colonoscopy. This device can plug to a standard colonoscopy column and provide hours of carbon dioxide insufflation. Several studies demonstrate the many benefits of insufflating the colon with carbon dioxide rather than room air, including less pain and post-procedure complications for the patients. This shift in paradigm has the potential to improve acceptance of colorectal cancer screening, thus save lives. EndoInSight, a spin-off company of the STORM Lab, is currently moving this solution through the FDA clearance pathway to provide patients with this practical solution as soon as possible.

Relevant Publications

T. Pasricha, B. F. Smith, V. R. Mitchell, B. Fang, E. Brooks, J. Gerding, M. Washington, P. Valdastri, K. L. Obstein, “Controlled colonic insufflation by a remotely-triggered capsule for improved mucosal visualization”, Endoscopy, 2014, Vol. 46, pp. 614-618. [PDF]

J. L. Gorlewicz, S. Battaglia, B. F. Smith, G. Ciuti, J. Gerding, A. Menciassi, K. L. Obstein, P. Valdastri, R. J. Webster III, “Wireless Insufflation of the Gastrointestinal Tract”, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 2013, Vol. 60, N. 5, pp. 1225-1233. [ PDF ]

K. L. Obstein, S. Battaglia, B. F. Smith, J. S. Gerding, P. Valdastri, “Novel approach for colonic insufflation via an untethered capsule (with video)”, Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, 2013, Vol. 77, N. 3, pp. 516-517. [ PDF ] [ VIDEO ]