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Desormeaux type endoscope, Paris, France, 1861-1880

This endoscope is specifically for viewing the rectum. A physician uses an endoscope to look into body cavities. This is to examine a patient and diagnose disease. Specialised endoscopes have different designs and names according to what part of the body they look at, for example the throat, rectum or bladder. This example was designed by French physician A. J. Desormeaux. It comes with attachments of various sizes, called specula. Desormeaux presented his endoscope for the first time in 1853 at the Medical Academy in Paris. The endoscope uses a light source, in this case an oil lamp, to illuminate the cavity via reflective surfaces. The light bouncing off an angled mirror inside the endoscope lets the physician see. The lamp produced a brighter light than the candle wicks previously used. However, it carried the danger of burns.

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Glossary: clinical diagnosis

A diagnosis given based on the signs and symptoms of a disease.

Glossary: endoscope

an instrument to look at the internal parts of the body. The modern endoscope is a flexible, fibreglass instrument that can be swallowed by a patient or introduced through a tiny incision in the body.