Daily Clinical News – Wirelessly Activated Robotic Device Aids Digestion in Patients with Organ Damage – Surgical Techniques

A wirelessly activated robotic device supports digestion in patients with damaged organs

Authors: HospiMedica International staff authors
Posted on June 11, 2024

The transport of fluids and solids is essential in the human body, driven by wave-like movement in light, called peristalsis. However, peristalsis may be impaired in patients with obstruction caused by cancer or requiring the use of stents. For example, traditional esophageal stents, which are metal tubes, are often used in older patients with esophageal cancer. With these stents, there is a risk that food may not pass into the stomach, which can create a dangerous situation where it may pass into the lungs instead. Now, a wirelessly activated device that mimics the wave action of muscles in the esophagus and small intestine could facilitate the transport of food and viscous fluids needed for digestion, helping patients with organ dysfunction.

Developed by researchers at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee, USA), this soft robot prototype is powered by powerful magnets controlled by an external, wearable actuator and is intended to help patients with blockages caused by cancer or those in need of stents. . The device consists of a soft sheet filled with a magnet arranged in parallel rows that are activated to move in waves, generating the torque necessary to transport various solids and liquids. By restoring natural peristaltic movement, this innovation sets the stage for a new generation of robotic medical devices aimed at improving the quality of life, especially for older people.

Photo: Concept of a wirelessly actuated wave pump and its integration with an esophageal stent (Photo courtesy of Advanced Functional Materials/

A wirelessly actuated robotic pumping mechanism offers the potential for a range of implantable medical devices designed to treat problems associated with light motility disorders in diseases such as esophageal cancer. Unlike other soft robotic pumps, this device is completely wireless and can be seamlessly integrated with existing medical stents. This new wireless soft robotic pump represents a significant advancement in soft robotics and bedside medical devices. The developers believe that further improvements could expand its use to other biological functions that are affected by disease. For example, the device could potentially facilitate the transport of human eggs from the ovaries when the function of the fallopian tube muscles is impaired. Additionally, with advances in manufacturing techniques, the device can be made smaller to fit even narrower passages.

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Vanderbilt University