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Last Updated: Monday, 22 August 2005, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
Vietnam medic makes DIY endoscope
By Hai Le
BBC Go Digital

The endoscope in action
The homemade endoscope was cheaper than professional ones
A hospital doctor in the poor rural area around the Mekong Delta in Vietnam has used his PC and some cheap parts to create a homemade endoscope.

In Vietnam, there is a shortage of endoscopes, with normally only one in each province.

Endoscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic procedure used to evaluate the interior surfaces of an organ by inserting a small scope in the body. Through the scope, doctors are able to see lesions.

Dr Nguyen Phuoc Huy said his hospital could never afford to buy one as the endoscope costs around $30,000.

Instead he spent two years developing a DIY endoscope to peer inside the bodies of patients without the need for surgery.

Low cost system

The scope captures images from the body of a patient, which are then passed through a webcam to an analysis machine.

Dr Nguyen Phuoc Huy
Dr Huy spent two years building the system
"The adaptor costs almost nothing because it is simply a system of lens linked to a webcam costing just about $30.

"In total I had to buy only the scope, which is about $800," Dr Huy told the BBC World Service programme Go Digital.

"A Pentium 4 computer with a colour printer is all that is needed for image processing.

"Using the Windows operating system, we have programs to record the images and put them in a database of patients."

"I can now make a complete endoscope system in just one week."

So far he has built one for himself and two for colleagues.

Technology novice

Nguyen Phuoc Huy started out as a medical doctor. Whilst he knew all about the human body, he was no technology expert. So he taught himself the basics of computing, optics and mathematics in his own time.

The homemade endoscope
Three homemade systems have so far been built
"In the beginning I had real problems installing new software on my PC and I often had to ask for help from some IT teacher living nearby.

"I also got advice on optics from physics teachers and I could design the optical apparatus in the lenses of my endoscope. I even had to revisit my physics notebooks from high school, revise my mathematics."

Dr Huy is set to make similar systems for other poor hospitals in Vietnam and even for medical centres in other countries. But he says people still do not know much about his product.

Having learnt all about the technology, the next step for Dr Huy is getting to grip with the marketing techniques he will need to spread the word even further.

You can hear more about the DIY endoscope on the BBC World Service programme Go Digital


SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Vietnam
06 Jul 05 |  Country profiles


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