human torso with organs

Improving examinations of the airway

The global fight against COVID-19 has defined the medical device market as an essential business in a critical infrastructure. As the life-threatening coronavirus attacks the throat and lungs, it is not surprising that demand for examinations of the airway has increased. This calls for innovative endoscopic systems that allow the best diagnoses and therapies.

“SCHOTT is proud to support the important medical device market for bronchoscopes, laryngoscopes, intubating scopes and ENT scopes with our reliable supply of glass optical fibers,” says Jürgen Hammerschmidt, Director Global Sales & Marketing Medical at SCHOTT Lighting and Imaging. SCHOTT draws on almost 60 years as a reliable producer of fiber optics for high-quality light guides and image guides.

Assisting intubation

Laryngoscopes help clinicians visualize the larynx to check for blockages or to intubate a patient. Intubation is facilitated either by a laryngoscope or an intubating endoscope that help the clinician identify the vocal cords and pass the tube between them into the trachea while avoiding the esophagus. To bring the highest quality light to the point of action, flexible or rigid glass optical fibers transport the light from the external light source into the body, enabling surgeons to see better.

Endoscopes for ear, nose and throat (ENT) examinations are also seeing a surge in use. Looking into very small and tight body cavities requires small-diameter instruments: glass fibers enable very thin instruments that make the endoscopes easier to use and improve patient comfort.
ENT endoscopes are traditionally multi-use, which means they require sterilization with a high-temperature process such as autoclaving after each use. Autoclaving reaches temperatures up to 137°Celsius (278.6 °Fahrenheit), which glass fibers can withstand with ease. However, there is also a recent trend to develop single-use ENT scopes, which SCHOTT can support with its new SingleEZ light guides.

lungs and bronchoscope
Doctor with mask

Seeing inside the lungs

A bronchoscope is used to view the entire respiratory system from the larynx and trachea to the smaller airways of our lungs, even down to the smallest bronchioles. Mostly known for diagnosing lung tumors or chronic coughs, bronchoscopes can also be used to assess infection in the lungs and conduct some airway cleaning after long-term intubation.

Bronchoscopes have a flexible fiber optic light guide powered by an external light source that illuminates the tissue under examination. Glass optical fibers from SCHOTT guide white light from LED or xenon light sources to the tip of endoscopes or other medical devices with minimal loss. Because of their high color neutrality and low color shift, physicians can trust they are seeing true-to-life color. Bronchoscopes also contain a flexible image guide that transports a real-life image out of the body onto a monitor.

Supporting the world-wide supply of medical components

“Thanks to our independent production sites, we can reduce the risk of supply interruptions,” Hammerschmidt says. “We are focused on doing our part within the global supply chain to keep the supply of essential, life-saving medical components and devices at full speed.”

July 1st, 2020


Christian Graf
Lighting and Imaging