Robots can almost be anything nowadays, from satellites out in space to the nanobots that are as small as a grain of sand. Their uses are profoundly diverse as well, from tackling disabilities and diseases all the way to guiding missiles. Now here's a new one: Would you let a robot up your butt?
Don't get me wrong, it's for a very good reason- colonoscopy. For those who don't know, this method allows your doctor to look inside your colon to search for ulcers, tumors, colon polyps, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. Scientists from the University of Leeds and Vanderbilt University created a magnetized robot that is guided by a bigger magnet attached to the robotic arm through the colon. And while this sounds unsettling, it is actually designed to provide a more comfortable procedure than having a human being manually do it.
Pietro Valdastri, one of the people who worked on the robot, came up with the idea with his colleagues because people tend to avoid getting colonoscopies and are not screened for cancer. "I want to get [the robot] ready before I turn 50," he jokingly told Motherboard.
Valdastri also said that the procedure will have the same time length as a standard colonoscopy, which is around 30 minutes, but much gentler. The robot was tested 30 times in pig's colons and completed every retroflexion (when the colonoscope bends to gain a rear-view look at the colon wall) in about 12 seconds. Human trials are expected to begin around the end of 2018.
"Whoever is afraid of feeling pain and whoever can't get sedated will hopefully be encouraged to get a colonoscopy. A lot of patients will benefit from it," said Valdastri.
People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome might also prefer getting colonoscopies done with this bot, he added. "(Some) IBS patients have to have five colonoscopies a year. They'll benefit from a painless and more gentle procedure."
Maybe robots creeping up on my butt is a cringey idea, but Valdastri is hoping that they'll at least give his robot a chance. Who knows? It might be just like a gentle massage.