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By flexible endoscope I mean colonoscope, gastroscope, etc.

From this video I can see that an endoscope can swivel its tip while in place, kind of like a periscope.

But while moving axially, i.e. "telescoping" (is that the right word?) or "snaking its way in," or in other words, while being inserted, how does an endoscope turn?

Does it have to hit something (e.g. the interior wall of the colon), and only due to the resistance of hitting that something is it able to turn?

Or is it designed in such a way that it can turn in midair, without having to come into contact with anything, while maintaining the turning point at the same point in space as it snakes further in, à-la the classic computer game snake?

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The endoscope has pairs of cords running along the length, which are called angulation wires. The levers on the operator end pull the cords differentially, which makes the tip turn.

enter image description here
( Source; the article pretty much answers the original question. )

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( Source. )

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( Source. )

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  • $\begingroup$ That is awesome. Nice find. I love graphics like that. $\endgroup$ – 6equj5 Nov 29 '16 at 4:32
  • $\begingroup$ However, the question I was asking is how the endoscope can turn while being inserted. Let's say you're holding a candy cane by the straight end, with the curved end away from you. If you "thrust" it towards someone, the cane won't go in the direction the curved tip is pointing. It will go along the axis of the straight section. Doesn't the endoscope behave the same way? Unless it hits something, then it won't "turn," and by "turn" I mean the whole thing turn as it's being inserted, not just the tip. Does that make sense? $\endgroup$ – 6equj5 Nov 29 '16 at 4:42
  • $\begingroup$ I found this: my.vanderbilt.edu/stormlab/files/2013/01/ARBE_On_Line.pdf On Page 6, Figure 2, it seems to suggest that the answer to my question is that it does have to hit something in order for it to turn as it gets inserted. That's from 4 years ago, though, so maybe they've figured it out by now? $\endgroup$ – 6equj5 Nov 29 '16 at 4:51

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