Fibreoptic Gastro-Intestinal Endoscopy at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana: A Historical perspective

  • Kofi N. Nkrumah
  • Emmanuel Q. Archampong


Endoscopic examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract – mainly oesophagus, proximal stomach – was performed using a rigid oesophagoscope, and of lower colon using rigid sigmoidoscope. These rigid scopes – in use probably around 1860s - especially the oesophagoscope, were very uncomfortable to the patient and had several limitations. In the 1920s the first clinically useful gastroscope was produced by Dr Rudolph Schindler, German (Munich) clinician working with Georg Wolf (Berlin instrument maker). This was proximally rigid and distally partially flexible.1 Schindler migrated to US during Nazi persecution in the 1930s and practiced at the University of Chicago.

A British Physicist, John Tyndall (1870) showed that a beam of light would follow the curved path of a stream of water. In 1927 another British scientist, J.L. Baird developed the idea of flexible glass fibres to propagate light. In 1954 Scientists at London’s Imperial College published the construction of coherent bundle of flexible glass fibres capable of transmitting discernible image. Dr Basil Hirshowitz, South African born but trained in England and then working at the University of Michigan in collaboration with an undergraduate Physics student Lawrence Curtiss, designed a prototype of a fully flexible and functional fibreoptic endoscope in 1957.