Two University of Houston College of Technology Engineering undergraduate students developed improvements to current endoscopy technology.
Amir Ali and Zainab Kassem developed the iLoop, an endoscopic procedural device that will be safer and easier for the patient and the doctor by allowing the doctor to externally trace the endoscope while it navigates the upper digestive tract. An endoscope is a long flexible tube mounted with a camera and a light and is inserted for diagnostic purposes into a hollow organ such as the esophagus.
According to Mequanint Moges, associate professor and undergraduate program director of computer engineering technology at the College of Technology, the students participated in the Manufacturing Division of American Society for Engineering Education and Society of Manufacturing Engineers third annual Design and Manufacturing competition.
The students were asked to develop a medically and environmentally safe endoscopic device addressing the need for the detection of loop formations while the endoscope is inside of the patient.
“Our objective was to create a system that would be able trace the orientation of the endoscope while it was inside a patient, along with (creating) a graphical user interface for the operators to help them visualize potential loop formation,” Ali said.
With enhanced sensing capability, the iLoop addressed a need of safety by avoiding the contact with organs if the endoscope should form a loop.
“I feel like this is a great step into tomorrow’s medicine,” Kassem said.
“It will not only help with cancer detections, but it will also be able to help with a variety of patients.”
While increasing safety standards, the iLoop also improves performance for current endoscopic devices by giving a better visual representation of the endoscope while inside of a patient, which currently includes a camera that can only see in front of it.
“Currently, there are no such devices that can detect a loop formation from the exterior of the patient,” Ali said.
“If a loop is detected the patients have to maneuver very uncomfortably to unloop the device.”
The endoscope is designed with sensors and the GUI gives the operator live feedback of its movement through the digestive tract.
The GUI will display the loops formation and location inside the patient and have a voice feedback system that alerts the operator of the proximity to the organs so that said organs will not be harmed via looping during the procedure.
In addition to Moges, Luca Pollonini, a research associate at the College of Technology, helped advise the students as they developed the device.
The next move for the iLoop, according to Pollonini, is to improve on the initial design, giving it more sensing ability for better guidance.
“We are identifying potential sources of funding aimed to move this project forward by integrating more sensors to achieve an improved guidance of the endoscope within the upper GI tract,” Pollonini said.