Building on the existing capsule endoscope, a novel medical device, the tadpole endoscope is being developed for use in diagnosis cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.


Diagnosis of cancers in the gastrointestinal tract can be made via three different procedures. For oesophageal and stomach cancer, gastroscopy is used. For intestinal cancer, capsule endoscopy can be used, wherein a camera in the shape of a capsule is swallowed and progresses through the gastrointestinal tract, taking pictures as it moves along. Colorectal cancer is typically found by colonoscopy. Due to the relative expensiveness of these procedures, and the discomfort and adverse effects on the patients, a novel medical device for diagnosing cancers of the gastrointestinal tract is being developed.

A new medical device, the tadpole endoscope, is being evaluated for its use as a diagnostic device for gastrointestinal cancer. The tadpole endoscope, which, as its name implies, resembles a tadpole, can actually propel itself through the gastrointestinal tract. While the structure of the ‘body’ of the tadpole endoscope is similar to the capsule endoscope, the tadpole endoscope also has a ‘tail’. The tail functions to create a propulsion force that drives the endoscope along the gastrointestinal tract. The tadpole endoscope has been reported to reach a speed of 12.5mm per second.

While the tadpole endoscope has been tested in stomach models and in a pig stomach, future experiments in animal models are needed to optimize the endoscope before it begins its journey through the human gastrointestinal tract.



Zhong, Y, Du, R, Chiu, PWY. “Tadpole endoscope: a wireless micro robot fish for examining the entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract” HKIE Transactions pages 117-122 Published online: 22 May 2015







Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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