Historical Perspectives of Bronchoscopy. Connecting the Dots

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The era of bronchoscopy began with Gustav Killian in 1876 when he removed a pork bone from a farmer's airway, using an esophagoscope. Prompted by this accomplishment, Chevalier Jackson, an American otolaryngologist, laid the platform for the modern-day rigid bronchoscope in the early twentieth century. In 1967 Shigeto Ikeda revolutionized the field of bronchoscopy by his innovation of the fiberoptic bronchoscope. Today, bronchoscopy and interventional pulmonology have become an integral part of pulmonary medicine and an established subspecialty. Numerous innovators have furthered the horizons of this technology. In the early 1980s Ko-Pen Wang introduced transbronchial needle aspiration to sample mediastinal lesions while Jean-François Dumon developed methods for laser photoresection and for placing stents thorough the bronchoscope. More recently, application of endobronchial ultrasound and electromagnetic navigation tools has further galvanized the role of bronchoscopy. The success of lung transplantation also belongs in part to flexible bronchoscopy. Today, researchers are looking into treating emphysema as well as asthma, using bronchoscopic techniques. We believe 2015 is a good time to look back on the history of bronchoscopy and to recognize its major milestones. This article attempts to connect the historical dots in this field of research, with the hope that our effort helps future generations improve the welfare of patients with lung ailments.

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