The word 'endoscope' literally means a device for 'looking inside' (from the Greek 'endo' meaning 'within' and 'scopy' meaning 'watching'). The modern fibre optic endoscope was invented by Basil Hirschowitz and Larry Curtiss in 1957, but endoscope type devices have been in use in medicine for a lot longer than that.
The main benefit of modern endoscopy is that it is not as invasive a procedure as a conventional operation, since the device is inserted via natural openings and so there is much less stress placed on the body and there is no scar tissue. This means generally quicker procedures and much quicker recovery times. Modern endoscopes also have operating equipment attached so that the surgeon can not only view the internal organs, but can also perform minor surgery at the same time.
Dr Gault uses different types of endoscopes to examine and operate on different parts of the body:
- Colonoscope – Used to examine the bowel (colon), via the anus.
- Gastroscope – Used to examine the stomach, oesophagus and duodenum.
Most endoscopy procedures are quick, with no hospital stay required and just a short period of observation afterwards.