Where Next for the Endoscope?

Ricardo A. Natalin; Jaime Landman

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The concept of examining the body's interior and its organs dates back to ancient times. The roots of modern endoscopy lie in early nineteenth century Europe, and the intervening centuries have seen a steady evolution of devices and techniques. Nowadays, a wide variety of urinary tract disorders are successfully managed in a minimally invasive manner thanks to the endoscope and related technologies. Distal-sensor, 'digital', endoscopes have the potential to revolutionize the field, and change the way in which we use and think about endoscopy. Virtual endoscopy, capsule endoscopy, and a range of other techniques derived from physics and molecular biology all promise great improvements in visualization of the urinary tract and other urologic structures. Ultimately, the continued improvement of these minimally invasive technologies will enhance the quality of care that we can offer our patients.


Endourologic treatment has advanced greatly in recent years, driven by technologic improvements in endoscopic visualization of urological structures and the development of ever-smaller endoscopes. The vast majority of urologic surgery and treatment, which once relied on invasive techniques and large open incisions, can currently be performed using minimally invasive techniques based on endoscopy. Throughout history, the field of urology has been a leader in surgical innovation and the application of minimally invasive techniques. Today, it continues to lead the cutting-edge application of endoscopy. In this Perspectives article, we review the evolution of contemporary endoscopy, highlight the most recent additions to the urologist's endoscopic armamentarium, and speculate about the bright future of urologic endoscopy.