Background: Previous in vitro studies showed that autofluorescence images of colonic mucosa collected endoscopically can be used to detect dysplasia with high sensitivity. This method is extended to the collection of fluorescence images of adenomatous polyps in vivo.
Methods: Fluorescence images were collected during colonoscopy in 30 patients. A total of 12 adenomatous and 6 hyperplastic polyps were identified. A fiberoptic excitation probe, located in the instrument channel of the colonoscope, delivered 300 mW of near-ultraviolet light at lambdaex = 351 and 364 nm. Mucosal fluorescence in the spectral bandwidth between 400 and 700 nm was imaged, processed, and displayed with various likelihoods of associated dysplasia.
Results: Adenomatous polyps exhibited decreased fluorescence intensity compared with adjacent mucosa with normal appearance. With the fluorescence threshold set to 80% of the average intensity of normal mucosa, a sensitivity of 83% for dysplasia identification was achieved. All hyperplastic polyps were correctly identified as being non-dysplastic. Optimal identification of dysplastic regions was obtained with the colonoscope oriented at a near-normal angle of incidence to the polyps. At higher angles of incidence, artifacts caused by illumination shadows were introduced.
Conclusions: The dysplasia associated with adenomatous polyps can be identified in vivo by fluorescence imaging with high sensitivity, thus demonstrating the potential to guide endoscopic procurement of biopsy specimens.