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Capsule endoscope apparatus

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Title: Capsule endoscope apparatus.
Abstract: A signal processing circuit of an external device includes a CPU and a memory which are not shown. A program for estimating at least one of the position and orientation of a capsule endoscope on the basis of strength signals received through respective antennas is installed in the signal processing circuit. A single-core coil to generate a magnetic field is arranged in the capsule endoscope. The generated magnetic field is detected by a plurality of coils arranged outside a body, whereby a distance that the capsule endoscope has traveled can be obtained with accuracy. This arrangement controls image-capture timing to reliably capture images necessary for a diagnosis and prevent unnecessary image capture. ...


Browse recent Olympus Corporation patents - Tokyo, JP
Inventors: Jun Hasegawa, Hirokazu Nishimura, Hideki Tanaka, Ryoko Inoue
USPTO Applicaton #: #20110282146 - Class: 600109 (USPTO) - 11/17/11 - Class 600 
Surgery > Endoscope >With Camera Or Solid State Imager

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20110282146, Capsule endoscope apparatus.

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CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a divisional application of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/485,563 filed on Jul. 12, 2006, which is a continuation application of PCT/JP2005/000342 filed on Jan. 14, 2005 and claims benefit of Japanese Application No. 2004-007379 filed in Japan on Jan. 14, 2004, the entire contents of each of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a capsule endoscope apparatus comprising an ingestible capsule unit and an extracorporeal unit for receiving biological information transmitted from the capsule unit.

2. Description of the Related Art

In recent years, capsule endoscope apparatuses for conducting an examination and the like in a body cavity with an ingested capsule type unit have been proposed.

For example, Japanese Unexamined Patent Application Publication No. 7-111985 discloses an apparatus including a spherical capsule divided in two having communication means for transmitting biological information to an extracorporeal device.

PCT Publication No. WO 01/87377 A2 discloses a capsule endoscope apparatus for detecting the motion (rate) of a capsule unit through an acceleration sensor or the like disposed in the capsule unit to control a capture rate or a display rate on the basis of a detected value.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a capsule endoscope apparatus including an image capturing unit for capturing an image in a body to transmit the image by radio and a receiving unit for receiving the image transmitted by radio from the image capturing unit to record the image, the apparatus further including: an estimating unit for receiving a signal transmitted by radio from the image capturing unit through each of a plurality of antennas arranged at different positions outside the body to estimate at least one of the position and orientation of the image capturing unit on the basis of the signals received through the antennas; and a control unit for controlling image capture by the image capturing unit using information regarding at least one of the position and orientation estimated by the estimating unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B include explanatory diagrams showing the structure of a capsule endoscope apparatus according to a first embodiment of the present invention and that of an extracorporeal device, such as an extracorporeal terminal, FIG. 1A being the explanatory diagram showing the capsule endoscope apparatus, FIG. 1B being the explanatory diagram showing the structure of the extracorporeal device, such as an extracorporeal terminal.

FIG. 2 is an explanatory diagram showing the internal structure of a capsule endoscope shown in FIG. 1A.

FIG. 3 is an explanatory diagram showing single-core coils serving as antennas of an antenna unit in FIG. 1A.

FIG. 4 is an explanatory diagram showing the structure of a signal transmitting and receiving function for an antenna of the capsule endoscope of FIG. 2 and that for the antennas of the antenna unit in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a diagram explaining signals transmitted from the antenna of the capsule endoscope of FIG. 2.

FIG. 6 is a first diagram explaining a process by a signal processing circuit in FIG. 4.

FIG. 7 is a second diagram explaining the process by the signal processing circuit in FIG. 4.

FIG. 8 is a diagram explaining a process by a signal processing circuit according to a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a diagram explaining a process by a signal processing circuit according to a third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a block diagram showing the structure of an image capturing circuit of a capsule endoscope according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process executed by a signal processing circuit in an external device according to a sixth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a flowchart showing the flow of a process performed by a terminal according to a seventh embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a first diagram showing an example of a screen displayed on the terminal by the process of FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 is a second diagram showing an example of a screen displayed on the terminal by the process of FIG. 12.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described below with reference to the drawings.

First Embodiment Structure

FIG. 1A is an explanatory diagram showing the entire structure of a capsule endoscope apparatus 1 according to the present embodiment. Referring to FIG. 1A, the capsule endoscope apparatus 1 includes a capsule endoscope 3, ingested by a patient 2, for examining a patient\'s body cavity and an external device 5 disposed outside the body of the patient 2, the external device 5 serving as a receiver connected to an antenna unit 4 for receiving image information captured by the capsule endoscope 3 by radio.

According to the present embodiment, the image information, transmitted from the capsule endoscope 3 and received by the external device 5, is recorded on portable memory means, e.g., a Compact Flash (registered trademark) memory, which will be described later, installed in the external device 5 during the examination of the body cavity. Alternatively, the image information is downloaded into a terminal 7, e.g., a personal computer, through a USB cable or the like (not shown). In addition, placing the external device 5 on a cradle 6 electrically connects the external device 5 to the terminal 7.

When viewer software for observation is executed in the terminal 7 shown in FIG. 1B, the image information stored in the external device 5 can be downloaded into a terminal body 9 by operating an input control device, such as a keyboard 8a or a mouse 8b, whereby downloaded images can be displayed on a monitor 8c.

As shown in FIG. 1A, in a case where the patient 2 swallows the capsule endoscope 3 for endoscopy, the antenna unit 4 including a plurality of antennas 11 is attached to a jacket 10 that the patient 2 wears. The antenna unit 4 receives signals, which are obtained by image capture through the capsule endoscope 3 and are transmitted from an antenna 23 (refer to FIG. 2) built in the capsule endoscope 3. The external device 5, connected to the antenna unit 4, can store captured images. The external device 5 is attached to, e.g., a belt of the patient 2 through a hook detachable from the belt. The antenna unit 4 may be stuck directly on the patient\'s body.

In the antenna unit 4, each antenna 11 includes single-core coils different in position and orientation. For example, single-core coils 11aX, 11aY, . . . , 11dY, and 11dZ aligned with the coordinate axes representing X, Y, and Z coordinates as shown in FIG. 3 are available.

The external device 5 has, e.g., a box shape. The front face thereof incorporates a liquid crystal monitor 12 for image display and an operation section 13 for instructions and operations.

Alternatively, the external device 5 may include an LED for alarm display and a power switch alone, the alarm display being concerned with the remaining amount of a battery, the power switch serving as the operation section 13. In this case, a portable display (viewer), which is not shown, for processing image signals transmitted from the capsule endoscope 3 to display images on a liquid crystal monitor equipped therewith may be connected as a second external device to the external device 5.

Referring to FIG. 2, the capsule endoscope 3 includes an outer housing 14 shaped in a cylinder, whose rear end is closed, and a substantially semispherical, i.e., domed cover 14a connected to the front end of the cylinder with an adhesive to provide a capsule structure. Accordingly, the capsule endoscope 3 has a watertight structure.

In the domed cover 14a that is transparent, an objective lens 15 for forming an image of incident light received through the domed cover 14a is attached to a lens frame 16 such that the objective lens 15 is positioned in the center of the section of the cylinder. An image capturing element, e.g., a CCD imager 17 is disposed in the image forming position of the objective lens 15.

As an illumination system, e.g., four white LEDs 18 are arranged around the objective lens 15 on the same plane.

In addition, a processing circuit 19 for driving the white LEDs 18 to emit light and driving the CCD imager 17 to execute a process of generating image signals from signals captured by the CCD imager 17, a communication processing circuit 20 for transmitting the image signals, and button batteries 21 for supplying power to the circuits 19 and 20 are arranged on, e.g., the rear of the CCD imager 17 within the outer housing 14.

On the rear of the button batteries 21, i.e., in the other semispherical end, the antenna 23 for transmitting and receiving radio waves is arranged so as to connect to the communication processing circuit 20. The CCD imager 17, the white LEDs 18, and the circuits are mounted on respective substrates (not shown) and the substrates are connected via a flexible substrate.

In the capsule endoscope 3, the processing circuit 19 generates a control signal to control image-capture timing of the CCD imager 17. In normal image capture, two frame images are captured per second. In a region, such as esophagus, where the capsule endoscope moves at a relatively high rate, e.g., 15 to 30 frame images are captured per second. The antenna 23 receives a signal transmitted from the external device 5. The communication processing circuit 20 processes the received signal and supplies the resultant signal to the processing circuit 19. The processing circuit 19 controls image-capture timing of the CCD imager 17 and turn-on/off of the white LEDs 18 in response to the supplied signal.

Operation

In the capsule endoscope 3, as shown in FIG. 4, the processing circuit 19 outputs an image signal and a signal indicative of a signal strength which are shown in FIG. 5. The communication processing circuit 20 transmits the signals at a predetermined radio-field intensity through the antenna 23 to the external device 5. In the external device 5, a transmitting and receiving circuit 33 receives the signals through each of the antennas 11ax, 11aY, . . . , 11dY, and 11dZ of the antenna unit 4.

The transmitting and receiving circuit 33 supplies the image signals and the strength signals to a signal processing circuit 35. The signal processing circuit 35 compares the strengths of the strength signals received through the respective antennas 11ij. Consequently, the signal processing circuit 35 detects the antenna most suitable to receive the image signal transmitted from the capsule endoscope 3. The signal processing circuit 35 supplies the image signal received through the most suitable antenna to memory means 47, such as a Compact Flash (registered trademark) memory (CF memory) or a hard disk, connected to the signal processing circuit 35 to store the image signal. Furthermore, the signal processing circuit 35 supplies the image signal received through the most suitable antenna to the liquid crystal monitor 12 connected to the signal processing circuit 35 to display an image captured through the capsule endoscope.

In the external device 5, the signal processing circuit 35 includes a CPU and a memory, which are not shown. A program for estimating the position and orientation of the capsule endoscope 3 on the basis of the strength signals received through the antennas 11ij is installed in the signal processing circuit 35. The position and orientation thereof can be estimated using a method for solving a plurality of nonlinear equations disclosed in Japanese Unexamined Patent Application Publication No. 11-325810. The signal processing circuit 35 obtains 12 nonlinear equations, in which the positions and orientations of the single-core coils arranged in the capsule endoscope 3 are unknown, from the strength levels of the strength signals received through the antennas 11ax, 11aY, . . . , 11dY, and 11dZ. The 12 nonlinear equations are solved by iterative refinement, e.g., the Gauss-Newton method, whereby the position and orientation of the capsule endoscope 3 is estimated. The estimated position and orientation are represented by coordinate values with respect to the antenna unit 4 in FIG. 3. The coordinate values are stored together with the image signal in the memory means 47. It is, however, unnecessary to estimate both of the position and the direction. Either of them may be estimated.

Assuming that the position of the capsule endoscope 3 is represented by Pi(Xi, Yi, Zi) as shown in FIG. 6, a distance Di that the capsule endoscope 3 has traveled is obtained by the following Expression.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20110282146 A1
Publish Date
11/17/2011
Document #
13192506
File Date
07/28/2011
USPTO Class
600109
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
61B1/04
Drawings
14


Images
Magnetic Field
Orientation
Prevent
Signal Processing
Signals


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