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endoscope,any instrument used to look inside the body. Usually consisting of a fiber-optic tube attached to a viewing device, endoscopes are used to explore and biopsy such areas as the colon and the bronchi of the lungs. Endoscopes employing miniature television cameras and tiny surgical implements now allow exploration and endoscopic surgery through small incisions; such surgery is much less traumatic to the patient than traditional open surgery. Laparoscopic surgery, in which the endoscope is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen or chest, is used to correct abnormalities of the ovaries and as an alternative to traditional gall bladder and chest surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is endoscopic surgery performed on joints such as the knee or shoulder.
a medical instrument for the examination of hollow organs (for example, the esophagus, stomach, and bronchi) and the abdominal and other body cavities. Endoscopes have optical and illumination systems. There are two basic types: rigid endoscopes (for example, proctoscopes), which use optical systems of lenses, and flexible fiberscopes (for example, esophago-gastroscopes), which use fiber optics. Fiberscopes make possible the examination of organs that cannot be seen with rigid endoscopes (for example, the duodenum). The optical systems of flexible endoscopes consist of numerous glass fibers (light guides), which measure 0.01–0.02 mm in diameter.
The use of endoscopes not only has made possible the examination of various organs but also has aided greatly in the visual guiding of biopsy procedures and in surgery (removal of foreign bodies and polyps, coagulation of bleeding vessels). Modern endoscopes permit complication-free examination.