Microfluidics in endoscopy

Since endoscopy requires a high degree of precision, let's take a look at the advantages of microfluidics - and DBM Medix! - can provide.

Journey to the heart of the body: the infinite possibilities of endoscopy What's it all about?

Endoscopy is a medical procedure that enables doctors to look inside the body using a thin, flexible tube equipped with a light source and a camera at the end, called an endoscope. This is inserted into the body’s natural orifices, such as the mouth, nose, anus or urethra.

Endoscopy Illustration

In addition to observing organs, endoscopy is used to take tissue samples for analysis (biopsy), to remove polyps, or even to perform certain medical treatments directly inside the body.

A truly non-invasive diagnostic technique, it provides invaluable information on the nature, location and extent of diseases. This makes it easy to understand the vital role it plays in establishing the diagnosis, and the precision it brings to it. Precision that will be invaluable when planning treatments.

What are the different types of endoscopy?

Since endoscopy requires only natural passages for its operation, it can be adapted to the observation of many parts of the body. Each of its exploratory examinations then refers to the zone under study:

  • Gastroscopy: the endoscope is inserted through the mouth to examine the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine.
  • Colonoscopy: the endoscope is inserted through the anus to visualize the colon and rectum.
  • Bronchoscopy: the endoscope is directed through the trachea to examine the airways and lungs.
  • Cystoscopy: the endoscope passes through the urethra into the bladder to examine the urinary tract.
  • Hysteroscopy: the endoscope is slid through the vagina to inspect the uterus.

Ulcers, tumors, infections, inflammations, gastrointestinal disorders: the diagnostic potential of endoscopy is vast, and benefits from advances in research, particularly in microfluidics.

Microfluidics and endoscopy:
a shared quest for precision and speed

Microfluidics in endoscopy

When you consider that endoscopy examines organs and requires a high degree of precision, in order to make a rapid and reliable diagnosis, the contribution of microfluidics is logically undeniable.

Generally speaking, because of the way they work, microfluidic lab-on-a-chip devices will enhance endoscopy examinations.

  • They require smaller quantities of biological fluids for analysis.
  • Since lab-on-a-chip can be moved and put to use anywhere, in no time at all, these analyses can be carried out under real-life conditions on samples taken during endoscopy. Results? Early diagnosis and faster intervention are particularly decisive in the context of cancer.

In the field of micro-endoscopy, we can mention miniaturized microscopes based on microfluidics. These devices incorporate miniaturized optical components and microfabrication techniques. Combined in this way, these components end up in an endoscopic capsule – generated from MEMS technologies such as certain microfluidic devices – containing a tiny video camera, capable of delivering very high-resolution images.

These capsules are also at the root of advances in drug therapy. Less invasive and more precise than traditional treatments, they enable targeted administration of drugs inside the body during endoscopic examinations.

Research continues to exploit this combination

In 2021, a study will report its findings on a microfluidic preendoscopic triage test for cancer screening. This test, or rather chip, known asEndoscreen, is designed to help doctors prioritize patients for endoscopic evaluation. And, by extension, to more quickly and reliably diagnose cancer and rapidly initiate treatment.

Currently, patients selected for endoscopic evaluation, are selected on the basis of clinical risk factors, such as a history of heartburn/reflux, age and high body mass index. In other words, conditions that many of us could present.

With its ability to identify a specific class of biomarkers in the blood and thus detect a certain type of cancer, the EndoScreen microfluidic chip suggests that a simple blood test can help prioritize patients for treatment. In this way, endoscopic evaluation is no longer simply a means of collecting samples for diagnosis after analysis; it can also be used to determine the parameters of the treatment to be administered. One step closer!

DBM Medix's dual commitment

The contribution of DBM Optix

DBM Medix is one of three subsidiaries of the DBM Group, which also includes DBM Reflex and DBM Optix. The company specializes in the design and manufacture of optical lenses. And since endoscopes are equipped with lenses to capture and transmit images, it’s easy to see how DBM Medix customers benefit from their partnership. In a context where endoscopy is combined with microfluidics, they can benefit from DBM Optix’s certified production of microfluidic systems and proven optical lens manufacturing.

The different functions of optical lenses

Optical lens - Endoscopy

Optical lenses designed for endoscopic purposes have to meet the constraints of restricted space and ergonomic requirements that are inseparable from the diagnostic precision and minimal medical intervention that characterize endoscopy.

This constant quest for design quality consolidates the variety of possible functions for these lenses:

  • Observation function. Their high resolution and extended depth of field guarantee clear, detailed observation of internal tissues.
  • Illumination function. Internal exploration of the human body requires a tailor-made light source to distribute light optimally. And creating optical designs for micro-LEDs is right up DBM Medix’s alley!
  • Function for laser surgery. Laser endoscopy emits intense light which is directed through the fiber and then through an optic to cut the tissue during surgery. Diamond machining, exclusive to DBM Medix, is used to produce micro-inserts, which are then placed in molds, ultimately leading to the precise, high-volume manufacture of the optics required.

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