A new material called glassfiber, developed in the United States in the 1960s, attracted a great deal of attention in various industrial sectors. The developers of endoscopes were among the first ones to turn to glassfiber. Basil Hirshowitz and his associates, for instance, used glassfiber in their endoscopes to take advantage of the glassfiber's characteristic of transmitting light from one end to the other even when it is bent. Their endoscopes allowed direct observation of the interior of a stomach. After all these years, doctors became capable of performing real-time observation of the stomach interior for the first time. The device, however, was not equipped to take a photograph. This feature did not become available until 1964 when the first gastrocamera with a fiberscope - the much-anticipated camera with an "eye" -was invented.
Gastrocamera with a fiberscope
Early prototype fiberscope
The gastrocamera with a fiberscope eliminated the weaknesses associated with "eyeless" gastrocameras at once. It was very well received, as an innovative product that opened doors to increased sophistication in diagnosis, since it allowed direct observations of the stomach tissues for dynamic analyses. Further attempts followed in search of new approaches, new technologies and new materials. For the photographic function, a camera was attached to the eyepiece. The era of gastrocameras came to an end around 1975, when they were completely replaced by fiberscopes.
Moreover, endoscopes found wider applications for examinations of other body parts including the esophagus, duodenum, large intestine, bronchus and gallbladder. In addition to clinical diagnoses applications, endoscopes are now used for treatment purposes, aided by progress made in endoscope-aided treatments. Thus, endoscopes have established themselves as an indispensable instrument in the medical community.