Use of a pillcam, a swallow-able capsule with a tiny video camera that lets physicians examine the colon, is common today. But what about a pillcam that actually can do a procedure, such as attach a surgical clip to stop bleeding?

Researchers at Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering have built early versions of this surgical clip capsule as well as about two dozen other function-specific capsules—called medical capsule robots—that collect biopsies, screen for colorectal cancer with a magnet outside the body manipulating a magnet in the capsule to get better views, screen for stomach cancer with tiny jets of water moving the capsule to places of interest, or check PH levels in the gastrointestinal tract, among other uses.

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