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Fibre-optic endoscope, Japan, 1980

Endoscopes help surgeons look inside the body without the need for surgery. This fibre optic endoscope was used for Oesophago-Gastro Duodenoscopy, a procedure that lets the surgeon view the oesophagus (the food pipe), the stomach and the duodenum (first portion of the small intestine). Fibre optic endoscopes were developed in the 1960s. They consisted of a tube composed of thousands of small fibres which allow light to be reflected around corners. This meant the tube could bend as it was inserted into the body. The technology let doctors view the lining of the stomach and intestines. This procedure is called a gastroscopy. The physician looks down the tube, takes photographs and, if necessary, can use long forceps to take a small biopsy for laboratory testing. This model was made by Fujinon in Japan.

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Glossary: gastro-intestinal surgery

Any type of surgery that addresses problems with the stomach or small intestine.

Glossary: endoscope

an instrument to look at the internal parts of the body. The modern endoscope is a flexible, fibreglass instrument that can be swallowed by a patient or introduced through a tiny incision in the body.