Researchers led by Leeds University have developed an inexpensive, pneumatically operated endoscope designed to identify cancers in the upper part of the digestive tract. It is made up of a hand-held control column and a disposable narrow silicone tube and camera housing, and costs around £40 to manufacture, compared with £80,000 for a conventional endoscope. The cheaper version will not be able to take biopsies like a more expensive version, but being smaller and made of silicone, it has the advantage of decreasing the need for patients to be sedated and is less likely to cause damage to the tissues in the upper digestive tract.
“Inexpensive endoscope developed for cancer diagnosis“
Project leader Pietro Valdastri, Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems at Leeds University said: “By radically re-thinking the way the device works, is manufactured and operated we have come up with a solution that is a fraction of the cost of conventional endoscopes. Cancer of the stomach and oesophagus have the highest global mortality rates. Screening programmes in many low-to-middle income countries are non-existent or ineffective because endoscope facilities are few-and-far between. Screening is effective at picking up the early signs of these cancers and there is an urgent need to develop technology which opens up these crucial checks to poorer populations.”