Colonoscopies are recommended for routine cancer screening for Americans over the age of 50. Millions of these procedures are performed every year. During a colonoscopy, a long thin tube called an endoscope is inserted into the rectum, then navigated by a surgeon until it reaches the colon. Once there, a camera is used to look for polyps or any other signs of cancer or other diseases.
Though the injury rate of colonoscopies is relatively low, the sheer number of these procedures performed every year means that thousands of people suffer serious side effects from this procedure. Amongst these side effects, a perforated bowel is among the most significant. Bowel perforation can cause significant long term difficulties for a patient, including a colostomy and the necessity of a colostomy bag.
Recognizing that too many people each year are suffering perforated bowels from colonoscopies, researchers are attempting to create a robot to perform the procedure. The robot would rely on electrical signals to safely navigate the rectum and small intestine. This machine, called the SMA-Actuated Soft Biomimetic Robot, could lower the injury rates from colonoscopies to near zero.
Unfortunately, this robot is still in the development stages, and human surgeons are still performing millions of these procedures a year. And each time the doctor manipulates the endoscope, there is the potential to do lasting damage to the patient’s body.
If you or someone you love has suffered a perforated bowel due to a colonoscopy, determining whether or not you have a case against the doctor who performed the procedure can be extremely difficult. A full review of your medical records is an important step, as is working with a qualified attorney who can help you identify and retain experts to help you with that evaluation.