Researchers in Japan have invented a minuscule, self-propelled, remote-controlled endoscope that can capture images of a human's stomach and colon.
The device, called Mermaid, measures 1.7 inches long and is fitted with a tiny camera and fin-like tail and can be either ingested orally or inserted rectally. The device, researchers feel, could be used to capture images of the entire digestive tract, including the small intestine, inside the human body.
The Mermaid was developed by Ryukoku University, Osaka Medical College, and a private-sector firm called Mu Ltd.
Naotake Otsuka, professor emeritus at Ryukoku University's Faculty of Science and Technology, Osaka, Japan, said the Mermaid is powered by an electromagnet and can easily and precisely maneuver inside the digestive tract to detect diseases such as cancer. The device is capable of capturing 2 images per second and can help doctors examine the entire human digestive canal from the esophagus to the colon in a few hours.
Earlier this year, German scientists at Hamburg University said they had invented a remote-controlled pill-sized endoscope that can record and transmit images of the inside of a human stomach in real time without a single incision point.
However, the Japanese team claims they are the first to have moved a remote-controlled endoscope inside the colon and shooting images there.
The new invention is certain to be welcomed by people who have undergone the conventional endoscopic procedure that includes forcefully inserting a tube down the throat that captures images as it descends. The uncomfortable procedure also carries the risk of punctured organs, infection and over-sedation.
In medical science, an endoscope is generally used to examine the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, the ear, the urinary tract, the female reproductive system.
Check out the photos below of this incredible breakthrough in medical science: