Endoscopy equipment is used by the medical profession to view inside a body cavity or organ using a tool called an endoscope, which is inserted through a natural opening or a small surgical opening. These medical imaging devices are used diagnostically, during surgery and as a tool to enhance anatomy courses. The two main categories of endoscopy equipment are rigid and flexible endoscopes. Specific endoscopes are named for body parts being viewed. A colonoscope is used to view the colon, an esophagoscope to view the esophagus and an anthroscope to view the inside of a joint.
Rigid endoscopes provide the best resolution images. They are made of a solid metal tube using lenses for imaging and fiber optics for lighting. Rigid endoscopes do not bend and are used for viewing parts of the body accessible to a rigid piece of equipment. This type of endoscopy equipment is used to view joints, some female reproductive organs, and the ear, nose and throat. Colonoscopes are another example of this type of endoscopy equipment.
Flexible endoscopes allow viewing of interior portions of the body not accessible using a rigid endoscope. Fiber optics, using glass or plastic fiber bundles, takes the place of lenses. Optical clarity and resolution depend on the type of fiber used; the best quality images are generally provided by fused quartz fibers. Bronchoscopes, used to view the interior of the trachea and bronchi are an example of a flexible endoscope.
Laparoscopes are a type of endoscopy equipment used primarily during abdominal surgery. The use of laparoscopes has made many surgical procedures less invasive. This tool is used not only to light and view the organs, but also can be equipped with tools to assist in the surgery. One type of surgery to reduce the size of the stomach uses a laparoscope to place a band around part of the stomach. A cystoscope is a surgical endoscopy tool similar to a laparoscope which is used to remove bladder polyps via the urinary tract.
Capsule endoscopy employs a tiny camera placed inside a capsule no larger than a pill. This is swallowed by the patient, and the miniature camera records images of the gastrointestinal tract that can’t be reached using other endoscopy equipment. The capsule can be guided with a joystick and magnetic field while it wirelessly transmits images. This type of endoscopy is primarily performed to view the small intestines, the area of the digestive tract between the stomach and colon, which is inaccessible using upper endoscopy or a colonoscope.
All medical use endoscopes are sealed to ensure sterilization. Veterinarians use endoscopy equipment for medical procedures in the same way doctors do for human patients. Industrial endoscopes, known as borescopes, use a similar technology as medical endoscopy equipment but are not manufactured to withstand sterilization procedures. Advances in laparoscope optics, lighting, display of images and other features continue, as more non-invasive trends in diagnostics and surgery are developed.