Diagnostic accuracy of probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy and narrow band imaging for small colorectal polyps: a feasibility study

Am J Gastroenterol. 2012 Feb;107(2):231-9. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2011.376. Epub 2011 Nov 8.


Objectives: Probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE) allows real-time in-vivo microscopic imaging of tissue. Narrow band imaging (NBI) can also classify colorectal lesions. Both systems may allow accurate optical diagnosis of small (6-9 mm) and diminutive (1-5 mm) polyps without histopathology. This study assesses the accuracy of pCLE and NBI for prediction of histology.

Methods: Participants underwent high-definition colonoscopy. The surface pit pattern of all polyps (1-9 mm) was determined in vivo using NBI. Confocal videos were obtained after administration of IV fluorescein. Recorded videos were subsequently analyzed offline, blinded to endoscopic characteristics, and histopathology. Confocal images were classified as neoplastic and non-neoplastic according to the Miami classification system.

Results: A total of 130 polyps (58 neoplastic, 72 non-neoplastic, mean size 4.6 mm) from 65 patients were assessed. Assuming histopathology as gold standard, pCLE had higher sensitivity than NBI (86% vs. 64%, P=0.008), with lower specificity (78% vs. 92%, p=0.027) and similar overall accuracy (82% vs. 79%, P=0.59). When 65 high-confidence cases were analyzed (polyps diagnosed identically with pCLE and NBI and with high-quality confocal videos), sensitivity and specificity were 94 and 97%.

Conclusions: pCLE demonstrated higher sensitivity in predicting histology of small polyps compared with NBI, whereas NBI had higher specificity. When used in combination, the accuracy of pCLE and NBI was extremely high, approaching the accuracy of histopathology. Together, they may reduce the need for histological examination. However, further studies are warranted to evaluate the role of these techniques, especially in the population-based colon cancer screening.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colonic Polyps / diagnosis*
  • Colonic Polyps / pathology
  • Colonoscopy / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity