Conformal antenna-based wireless telemetry system for capsule endoscopy
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Capsule endoscopy for imaging the gastrointestinal tract is an innovative tool for carrying out medical diagnosis and therapy. Additional modalities beyond optical imaging would enhance current capabilities at the expense of denser integration, due to the limited space available within the capsule. We therefore need new designs and technologies to increase the smartness of the capsules for a given volume. This thesis presents the design, manufacture and performance characterisation of a helical antenna placed conformally outside an endoscopic capsule, and the characterisation in-silico, in-vitro and in-vivo of the telemetry system in alive and euthanised pigs. This method does not use the internal volume of the capsule, but does use an extra coating to protect the antenna from the surrounding tissue and maintain biocompatibility for safe use inside the human body. The helical antenna, radiating at 433 MHz with a bandwidth of 20 MHz within a muscle-type tissue, presents a low gain and efficiency, which is typical for implantable and ingestible medical devices. Telemetry capsule prototypes were simulated, manufactured and assembled with the necessary internal electronics, including a commercially available transceiver unit. Thermistors were embedded into each capsule shell, to record any temperature increase in the tissue surrounding the antenna during the experiments. A temperature increase of less than 1°C was detected for the tissue surrounding the antenna. The process of coating the biocompatible insulation layer over the full length of the capsule is described in detail. Data transmission programmes were established to send programmed data packets to an external receiver. The prototypes radiated at different power levels ranging from -10 to 10 dBm, and all capsules demonstrated a satisfactory performance at a data rate of 16 kbps during phantom and in-vivo experiments. Data transmission was achieved with low bit-error rates below 10-5. A low signal strength of only -54 dBm still provided effective data transfer, irrespective of the orientation and location of the capsule, and this successfully demonstrated the feasibility of the system.