The role of the surgeon in the evolution of flexible endoscopy

C. B. Morgenthal, W. O. Richards, Brian J. Dunkin, K. A. Forde, G. Vitale, E. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Several cultures, including the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs, made attempts to view accessible human body cavities using a variety of instruments such as spatulas and specula. The first endoscope was created in 1806 when Phillip Bozzini, a German-born urologist, constructed the lichtleiter, which used concave mirrors to reflect candlelight through an open tube into the esophagus, bladder, or rectum. Maximilian Carl-Friedrich Nitze, another German urologist, produced the first usable cystoscope in 1877 by using series of lenses to increase magnification. He was also the first to place light inside the organ of interest to aid visualization. In 1880 Mikulicz made the first gastroscope using a system similar to Nitze's cystoscope. Modern endoscopy was born with the introduction of the fiberoptic endoscope in the late 1950s. Over the ensuing 50 years endoscopy revolutionized many aspects of the surgeon's practice. Endoscopy can now be used to diagnose and often treat gastrointestinal cancer, hemorrhage, obstruction, and inflammatory conditions. This review was initiated by the SAGES Flexible Endoscopy Committee to chronicle the role of the surgeon in the development and introduction of flexible endoscopy into clinical practice, historically and in contemporary surgery. Flexible endoscopy evolved out of surgeons' need to overcome diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. There have been many recent technological advances that facilitate endoluminal therapies, and flexible endoscopy is now traversing new ground. Surgeons have been major contributors in the development of all aspects of endoscopy. There is a continually expanding list of therapeutic options available to patients. The difficult questions of which procedure, on which patient, and when can be answered best by the surgeon versed in endoscopic, laparoscopic, and open surgical techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)838-853
Number of pages16
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007


  • Colonoscopy
  • EGD
  • Endoluminal
  • Endoscopy
  • History
  • Transgastric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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