In vivo imaging of oral neoplasia using a miniaturized fiber optic confocal reflectance microscope

Oral Oncol. 2008 Nov;44(11):1059-66. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2008.02.002. Epub 2008 Apr 8.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether in vivo images of oral mucosa obtained with a fiber optic confocal reflectance microscope could be used to differentiate normal and neoplastic tissues. We imaged 20 oral sites in eight patients undergoing surgery for squamous cell carcinoma. Normal and abnormal areas within the oral cavity were identified clinically, and real-time videos of each site were obtained in vivo using a fiber optic confocal reflectance microscope. Following imaging, each site was biopsied and submitted for histopathologic examination. We identified distinct features, such as nuclear irregularity and spacing, which can be used to qualitatively differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue. Representative confocal images of normal, pre-neoplastic, and neoplastic oral tissue are presented. Previous work using much larger microscopes has demonstrated the ability of confocal reflectance microscopy to image cellular and tissue architecture in situ. New advances in technology have enabled miniaturization of imaging systems for in vivo use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Fiber Optic Technology*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal / instrumentation
  • Microscopy, Interference / instrumentation*
  • Miniaturization*
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity