Portable optical fiber probe-based spectroscopic scanner for rapid cancer diagnosis: a new tool for intraoperative margin assessment

PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30887. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030887. Epub 2012 Jan 27.


There continues to be a significant clinical need for rapid and reliable intraoperative margin assessment during cancer surgery. Here we describe a portable, quantitative, optical fiber probe-based, spectroscopic tissue scanner designed for intraoperative diagnostic imaging of surgical margins, which we tested in a proof of concept study in human tissue for breast cancer diagnosis. The tissue scanner combines both diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) and intrinsic fluorescence spectroscopy (IFS), and has hyperspectral imaging capability, acquiring full DRS and IFS spectra for each scanned image pixel. Modeling of the DRS and IFS spectra yields quantitative parameters that reflect the metabolic, biochemical and morphological state of tissue, which are translated into disease diagnosis. The tissue scanner has high spatial resolution (0.25 mm) over a wide field of view (10 cm × 10 cm), and both high spectral resolution (2 nm) and high spectral contrast, readily distinguishing tissues with widely varying optical properties (bone, skeletal muscle, fat and connective tissue). Tissue-simulating phantom experiments confirm that the tissue scanner can quantitatively measure spectral parameters, such as hemoglobin concentration, in a physiologically relevant range with a high degree of accuracy (<5% error). Finally, studies using human breast tissues showed that the tissue scanner can detect small foci of breast cancer in a background of normal breast tissue. This tissue scanner is simpler in design, images a larger field of view at higher resolution and provides a more physically meaningful tissue diagnosis than other spectroscopic imaging systems currently reported in literatures. We believe this spectroscopic tissue scanner can provide real-time, comprehensive diagnostic imaging of surgical margins in excised tissues, overcoming the sampling limitation in current histopathology margin assessment. As such it is a significant step in the development of a platform technology for intraoperative management of cancer, a clinical problem that has been inadequately addressed to date.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Calibration
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Fiber Optic Technology / instrumentation*
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Care / instrumentation*
  • Intraoperative Care / methods*
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Optical Fibers*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Spectrum Analysis / instrumentation*
  • Sus scrofa


  • Hemoglobins