Objective: Surveillance of Barrett's esophagus is problematic, as high-grade dysplasia cannot be recognized endoscopically. Endoscopic ultrasound lacks the resolution to detect high-grade dysplasia. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) employs infrared light reflectance to provide in vivo tissue images at resolution far superior to endoscopic ultrasound, nearly at the level of histology. We have developed a catheter-based system well suited for study of the GI tract. The purpose of this study was to test this catheter-based OCT system and characterize the OCT appearance of normal squamous mucosa, gastric cardia, Barrett's esophagus, and carcinoma.
Methods: The OCT catheter was passed through the operating channel of the endoscope and placed in contact with the esophageal mucosa. Image acquisition occurred in approximately 3 s. OCT images were correlated with biopsy and/or resection specimens.
Results: OCT was used to construct 477 images of the esophagus and stomach in 69 patients. There were unique, distinct OCT appearances of squamous mucosa, gastric cardia, Barrett's esophagus, and carcinoma. Further, these OCT images were accurately recognized by observers unaware of their site of origin.
Conclusions: OCT provides a highly detailed view of the GI wall, with clear delineation of a multiple layered structure. It is able to distinguish squamous mucosa, gastric cardia, Barrett's esophagus, and cancer. This technique holds great potential as an adjunct to the surveillance of patients with Barrett's esophagus, ulcerative pancolitis, and other premalignant conditions.