A robot with tentacles that reaches every corner of the lungs

A team of scientists from University of Leeds designed a tentacle robot able to explore the lungs and enter even the smallest gaps in the bronchi. With it it would be possible to take samples from places that are practically inaccessible today and also to deliver medicines such as chemotherapy where they are needed.

Undoubtedly, the introduction of robotics in the field of medicine gives great news in recent years. This could be one of them; although, as the authors of the survey explain in a press release, it would still be necessary to wait a few years to be able to have it in the hospitals.

In fact, there are still a few test phases left. So far they have only tried the tentacle robot in 3D rendering of the bronchial tree. Then they hope to use it on cadavers and, from there, on living patients. It is true that many steps remain to be taken; But, according to the results published in Soft robotics, those who have tours have been very positive. In the future, patients with cancer and other lung conditions may appreciate it.

Barriers to access beyond the lungs

Doctors today use a device called bronchoscope. It consists of a flexible tube 3.5 to 4 millimeters in diameter, which is introduced through the nose and mouth and carried to the bronchi.

His problem is that due to his size, he can only access the highest part of the tree that makes up the bronchi. To be able to enter even the tightest corners, you pass a catheter about 2 millimeters through the bronchoscope. This can already be introduced into the thinnest branches of the tree, but it is very difficult to manipulate it from the outside. Let’s not forget that this is a tube within a tube inserted through the nose. It doesn’t leave much room for movement.