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Challenges for Using Cameras in Endoscopes

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Electronic cameras with video feeds are replacing miniature optical pathways in endoscopes. In the past, these miniaturized optical pathways composed of prisms and lenses (and in later generations, optical fibre) would take the image to the last part of the endoscope where the doctor would have to view it, wherever it was located. Now, the camera’s video feed allows you to place the image on display anywhere, with any size, and very conveniently. Cameras in endoscopes does impose some very unique requirements on such a design.

  • The primary challenge is lighting. You rarely have ideal lighting conditions, particularly inside the body, so you need to bring a light with you.
  • This light source creates another problem of thermal management.
  • The high frequency signals from the camera can be in megahertz to tens of megahertz range. While the signals may not be difficult to manage on a computer backplane or motherboard, these signals run over a longer distance and in a potentially noisier environment. Size and power consumption does constrain this issue.

Miniature cameras for the endoscope are lower in cost than optical pathways. Single chip cameras can be treated as a disposable item, avoiding the need for sterilization. The display and all the controlling logic are held in the reusable part of the device for repeated use.

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