Flexible endoscopy devices are commonly used nowadays by members of the medical community. But how did we get here? The history of flexible endoscopy devices — and their rigid counterparts — is quite lengthy! Let’s take a look at the history of these remarkable modern day medical devices.

Some medical historians suggest that instruments designed to allow doctors to look inside the human body may have been developed as far back as the ancient Roman period. While there is some debate as to an exact date, archaeologists discovered something that looked like an endoscope in the ruins of Pompeii — a city destroyed in AD 79 by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which is a so-called “strato-volcano” located in the Gulf of Naples in Italy.

However, the actual invention of the endoscope is attributed by most medical historians to a man named Philip Bozzini in 1805. Bozzini, who happened to be German, used a special tube that he created that was given the name “Lichtleiter” (light guiding instrument) in an effort to examine the urinary tract. The name “endoscope” was coined by Antoine Jean Desormeaux — a French surgeon who regularly made use of Bozzini’s invention.

According to reputable medical sources, a man named Adolph Kussmaul was the first person to use an endoscope to examine the inside of a stomach of a living person. This took place in 1868. A decade later, a pair of doctors — Max Nitze and Josef Leiter — invented a type of endoscope that was specifically used to inspect the urinary tract and bladder.

In 1881, a noted Polish-Austrian surgeon named Johann von Mikulicz created the first-ever gastroscope which was used for the small intestine, stomach and esophagus. Rudolph Schindler — a German gastroenterologist — improved on Johann von Mikulicz’s invention by creating a flexible gastroscope in 1932. In the 1950’s a team of doctors and optical engineers created a tiny camera version of the gastroscope that they referred to as the “gastro-camera.” Amazing, isn’t it?

In the same decade the gastro-camera was invented, Harold Hopkins (a renowned British physicist) played a central role in the creation of a device called a “fibroscope.” It consisted of a bundle of flexible glass fibers. The fibroscope gave better image quality than its predecessors due to a more honed light focus on the inspected areas.

The flexible endoscopy devices that help form the foundation of modern medicine owe their existence to the innovative ideas and inventions of the people we just talked about. The history of flexible endoscopy devices truly is remarkable, and the innovation never stops. Even today, medical researchers are coming up with new and better ways to make flexible endoscopy devices safer and more effective than ever before.