Research press release


Nature Machine Intelligence

Technology: A semi-automated robot can perform colonoscopy

誘導式大腸内視鏡検査を行うロボットを紹介する論文が、今週、Nature Machine Intelligence に掲載される。この論文で説明されている技術は、自動大腸内視鏡検査の手技を簡素化したもので、膵臓内視鏡検査、気管支内視鏡検査、胃内視鏡検査など、他の手技にも応用することができる。


今回、James MartinとBruno Scaglioniたちの研究チームは、ユーザーからの簡単な動作指令に依存する半自動ロボットシステムを紹介している。プローブは機械知能と画像分析を用いて動き、大腸内を自動的に進んでいく。著者たちはこの手法を、人工大腸モデルだけでなく2頭のブタでも検証した。手技を行ったユーザーらは、この新しいシステムは、ノンインテリジェントな方法よりもはるかに制御しやすいと感じた。


A robot that can perform guided colonoscopy is presented in a paper published this week in Nature Machine Intelligence. The technology described in this study simplifies automated colonoscopy procedures and can also be applied to other procedures such as pancreatic endoscopy, bronchoscopy and gastroscopy.

Nineteen million colonoscopies are performed every year in the European Union and the United States, and the need for this procedure is expected to rise by 16% in the next decade. The diagnosis and prevention of colorectal cancer — the third most common form of cancer worldwide — relies heavily on colonoscopies. Traditional colonoscopies are expensive, painful and require highly skilled medical practitioners to be fully aware of the probe’s position while guiding it through the colon. New approaches using magnetic probes that are guided by a magnet outside of the body have been recently developed. The external magnet can be precisely controlled by a robotic arm, which allows for complex movement inside the body. However, this method is complicated and still requires the user to be highly trained in order guide the robot arm and the magnetic probe.

James Martin, Bruno Scaglioni and colleagues present a semi-automated robotic system that relies on simple movement commands from the user. The probe moves using machine intelligence and image analysis to automatically guide itself along the colon. The authors tested this approach in an artificial colon model as well as in two pigs. The users performing the procedures found this new system to be much more manageable than the non-intelligent method.

By making colonoscopy easier to perform, this technology might have the potential to increase the ubiquity of the procedure and impact the early detection of colorectal cancer.

doi: 10.1038/s42256-020-00231-9

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