Preliminary mechanical characterization of the small bowel for in vivo robotic mobility

Benjamin S. Terry, Allison B. Lyle, Jonathan A. Schoen, Mark E. Rentschler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


In this work we present test methods, devices, and preliminary results for the mechanical characterization of the small bowel for intra luminal robotic mobility. Both active and passive forces that affect mobility are investigated. Four investigative devices and testing methods to characterize the active and passive forces are presented in this work: (1) a novel manometer and a force sensor array that measure force per cm of axial length generated by the migrating motor complex, (2) a biaxial test apparatus and method for characterizing the biomechanical properties of the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum, (3) a novel in vitro device and protocol designed to measure the energy required to overcome the self-adhesivity of the mucosa, and (4) a novel tribometer that measures the in vivo coefficient of friction between the mucus membrane and the robot surface. The four devices are tested on a single porcine model to validate the approach and protocols. Mean force readings per cm of axial length of intestine that occurred over a 15 min interval in vivo were 1.34 ± 0.14 and 1.18 ± 0.22 N cm -1 in the middle and distal regions, respectively. Based on the biaxial stress/stretch tests, the tissue behaves anisotropically with the circumferential direction being more compliant than the axial direction. The mean work per unit area for mucoseparation of the small bowel is 0.08 ± 0.03 mJ cm -2. The total energy to overcome mucoadhesion over the entire length of the porcine small bowel is approximately 0.55 J. The mean in vivo coefficient of friction (COF) of a curved 6.97 cm 2 polycarbonate sled on live mucosa traveling at 1 mm s -1 is 0.016 ± 0.002. This is slightly lower than the COF on excised tissue, given the same input parameters. We have initiated a comprehensive program and suite of test devices and protocols for mechanically characterizing the small bowel for in vivo mobility. Results show that each of the four protocols and associated test devices has successfully gathered preliminary data to confirm the validity of our test approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number091010
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • biaxial
  • mechanical characterization
  • mucus adhesivity
  • peristalsis
  • small bowel
  • tribometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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