Miniature gastrointestinal endoscopy: Now and the future

World J Gastroenterol. 2019 Aug 14;25(30):4051-4060. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v25.i30.4051.


Since its original application, gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy has undergone many innovative transformations aimed at expanding the scope, safety, accuracy, acceptability and cost-effectiveness of this area of clinical practice. One method of achieving this has been to reduce the caliber of endoscopic devices. We propose the collective term "Miniature GI Endoscopy". In this Opinion Review, the innovations in this field are explored and discussed. The progress and clinical use of the three main areas of miniature GI endoscopy (ultrathin endoscopy, wireless endoscopy and scanning fiber endoscopy) are described. The opportunities presented by these technologies are set out in a clinical context, as are their current limitations. Many of the positive aspects of miniature endoscopy are clear, in that smaller devices provide access to potentially all of the alimentary canal, while conferring high patient acceptability. This must be balanced with the costs of new technologies and recognition of device specific challenges. Perspectives on future application are also considered and the efforts being made to bring new innovations to a clinical platform are outlined. Current devices demonstrate that miniature GI endoscopy has a valuable place in investigation of symptoms, therapeutic intervention and screening. Newer technologies give promise that the potential for enhancing the investigation and management of GI complaints is significant.

Keywords: Capsule endoscopy; Single fiber endoscopy; Ultrathin endoscopy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Technology / methods
  • Biomedical Technology / trends*
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal / instrumentation
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal / methods
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal / trends*
  • Equipment Design / trends*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Inventions
  • Mass Screening / instrumentation
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mass Screening / trends
  • Miniaturization / methods*