Flexible Endoscope at Point of Care
Hysteroscopy is a procedure that requires the direct visualization of the uterine cavity to diagnose and treat abnormal uterine conditions. Health professionals regard it as the gold‑ standard for diagnosis because of its effectiveness and efficiency.
Traditional hysteroscopy systems, and the equipment required for its use, can be expensive and inaccessible for Global Health needs. Furthermore, these systems employ rigid hysteroscope tips that can cause patient discomfort, often leading to the need for general anesthesia. This in turn limits the procedures to the operating theatre and adds to waiting time delays.
These limitations coupled with bulky and fragile equipment result in an immobile system only available in a tertiary healthcare facility, requiring highly skilled professionals.
Market trends also favour minimally invasive devices that enhance the patient experience and enable the broader use of technology other than traditional users.
The University of Cape Town’s solution is a reusable mobile hysteroscopy system for application at the point of care. The University’s Medical Devices Laboratory has worked with some of the best gynaecologists in South Africa to understand their challenges and to co‑design the solution with their constraints in mind.
The result is the FlexiGyn device which provides for single‑handed operation and its ease of use broadens the scope for health professionals, including nurses, who could operate it.
FlexiGyn is a system that consists of a handheld control base and a flexible rod. A built-in CMOS camera and LED light source are located at the distal end of the flexible rod. The flexible rod can bend up to 180° in 4 directions through user-controlled input via its novel smart bending system which is powered by a rechargeable battery. The result is a system with controlled flexibility that ensures maximum patient comfort.
The system integrates with a smartphone or a tablet for visualization, which also enables the user to save any videos or images.
A final part of the system is a sterile disposable sheath that covers the flexible rod and isolates it from patient contact, eliminating the need for intensive sterilization after use. The sheath also has two working channels, one for distention media and the other for the insertion of operative instruments. A significant benefit of the device is its application both inside and outside of the operating theatre without the need for general anesthesia. This is made possible through the device’s small diameter and inherent flexibility.
The system also offers incredible mobility because of its single‑handed operation, is operated from the battery. It has a built-in camera and light source and integrates with a smartphone or tablet.
The primary area of application is in the female genital tract.
Potential users include gynaecologists, senior nurses and urologists.
The technology that encompasses the highly flexible rod could however be translated to other gastro‑intestinal scopes and other endoscopic devices.