History of Cystoscopy

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I stumbled across a bit of Nephrology/Urology history the other day while strolling around a hospital in Paris: this plaque commemorating one of the key steps in the invention of ureteroscopy and cystoscopy. The plaque can be found at Hopital Necker-Enfants Malades, a large hospital now especially renowned for the treatment of pediatric illnesses (and also happens to be the birthplace of the stethoscope by Laennec in 1816).

A free article on the Development of the Modern Cystoscope via Medscape can be found here. The French instrument described above was not the first attempt at endoscopy, but was apparently one of the earliest. It is described as a “long metal channel through which a mirror reflected light from a petroleum-fueled lamp,” and could be used to demonstrate the presence of gallstones and kidney stones in some situations. However, one of its major limitations was that the metal heated up pretty quickly and caused significant patient discomfort. I can’t imagine being one of the first patient subjects trying out the new, experimental cystoscope…

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