Wenjun Zhang, Division of Biomedical Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, 57 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A9, Canada. Email: wjz485@mail.usask.ca


Although colonoscopy is a very commonly carried out procedure, it is not without its problems, including a risk of perforation and significant patient discomfort, especially associated with looping formation. Furthermore, looping formation may prevent a complete colonoscopy from being carried out in certain patients. The conventional colonoscope has not changed very much since its original introduction. We review promising technologies that are being promoted as a way to address the problems with current colonoscopy. There are some methods to prevent looping formation, including overtube, variable stiffness, computer-guided scopes, Aer-O-Scope™, magnetic endoscopic imaging and the capsule endoscope. In recent years, with the progress of microelectromechanical and microelectronic technologies, many biomedical and robotic researchers are developing autonomous endoscopes with miniaturization of size and integration functionality that represent state of the art of the micro-robotic endoscope. The initial results by using aforementioned methods seem promising; however, there are some conflicting reports of clinical trials with the overtube colonoscope, the computer-guided scope and the variable stiffness colonoscope. There are also some limitations in the use of the Aer-o-scope and the capsule endoscope. The autonomous endoscope is based on a self-propelling property that is able to avoid looping completely. This novel technology could potentially become the next generation endoscope; however, there are still critical techniques to be approached in order to develop the effective and efficient novel endoscope.