100 Greatest Science Inventions of All Time

By Kendall Haven | Go to book overview

Endoscope
(Arthroscopic Surgery)
Year of Invention: 1957

What Is It? A device that allows doctors to see and work inside body cavities
without making large incisions.

Who Invented It? Basil Hirschowitz (in Ann Arbor, Michigan)


Why Is This Invention One of the 100 Greatest?

Arthroscopic surgeries featuring fiber optic endoscopes are minimally invasive, create fewer complications, are faster and less expensive, and allow for speedier recovery. Arthroscopic surgery patients stay in the hospital for hours instead of weeks. They leave patients with minimal pain and risk of infection or complication. Endoscopy comes from Greek words meaning “to look inside.” Arthroscopic means microsurgery.

Arthroscopic surgery revolutionized orthopedic medicine and has been hailed as a great cost cutter for diagnosis and surgery. This process radically changed many areas of body observation and diagnosis, as well as surgery.


History of the Invention

What Did People Do Before?

Before arthroscopic surgery, repairing joint damage meant long half-moon scars and months of painful rehabilitation and therapy. Valuable exploratory surgeries were rare because their long, open gashes created more problems than the information was worth.

Early attempts to peer inside the body used microscope and telescope technology. The tubes were rigid and often several inches across. Worse, when a viewing tube was able to penetrate into a body cavity, there was no light, so the physician still could not see.

The first scope with attached lights was constructed in 1853. However, it was so big and bulky that major surgery was required to open a pathway for the scope.

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