"Spider Pill" Will Crawl Through Your Intestines to Check for Cancer

By Eliza Strickland | October 15, 2009 10:12 am

spider-pillFor all those patients who shudder at the thought of getting a colonoscopy and stubbornly refuse to make that appointment, there may soon be an alternative. Italian researchers have invented a “spider pill” that can be swallowed like a normal pill, but which later crawls through the intestines to check for signs of colon cancer. The researchers say the spider pill could be a great advance, because while the long and flexible endoscopes typically used in colonoscopies are very effective, many people balk at having a tube run through them.

The tiny bot contains a camera so doctors can monitor its progress through the digestive system (as demonstrated in this video). Once it hits the colon, doctors use a wireless link to command it to unfold its eight legs, and then order it to and fro so they can carefully check for polyps or tumors. Pills containing cameras already exist, but this is believed to be the first that can be controlled after it has been swallowed. Once the examination has finished, the spider pill exits the body naturally [Telegraph]. So far, the device has only been tested on pigs.

The researchers also invented a related device to survey the stomach, which contains more liquid than the intestines. That little bot uses propellers instead of legs to get around.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Technology
  • Matt T

    “Once the examination has finished, the spider pill exits the body naturally.”

    Come on, Eliza….no pun?! How you resist these temptations, I’ll never know.

  • orlando tocano


  • bigjohn756

    I never had any trouble with the ‘scope because I was asleep when that went in. What really bothered me was the prep because I was awake for that entire uncomfortable process. I really wanted to use another word for uncomfortable.

    However, anyone at risk who won’t get a colonoscopy is crazy. A friend of mine refused to get one even after he was in pain and bleeding. He finally relented and is now in treatment and awaiting surgery.

  • Richard Stein

    Having had 3 colonoscopies without anesthesia, my reaction is also that the prep is worse than the procedure. I took along some reading material while it was being done, and when the doctor said he was finished, I suggested he continue since I was not done with my reading./ I also jokingly asked him if I could get a copy of his videotape of the insides of my colon to show my guests at home when I wanted them to leave!

  • John Grigni

    From a marketing perspective, asking someone to swallow a robot spider is not much better than the alternative. Perhaps a less unsettling name. Gastro Genie? Lil Wriggler?

  • Stassa

    I can’t be the only one that thinks of that bug in the Matrix? The one the agents implanted Neo with in the first movie?

    Anyway I think it may be an interesting experience to feel something crawling around inside your gut- David Cronenberg material!

    I’ll stop with the flim referrences here I think :)

  • Bobshili Kumbaya

    Zis is vonderful!!!! I love it! now i dont have to get a tube shoved up my buttox.

  • Malikilili



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