Esophageal-guided biopsy with volumetric laser endomicroscopy and laser cautery marking: a pilot clinical study

Gastrointest Endosc. 2014 Jun;79(6):886-96. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2013.11.016. Epub 2014 Jan 23.


Background: Biopsy surveillance protocols for the assessment of Barrett's esophagus can be subject to sampling errors, resulting in diagnostic uncertainty. Optical coherence tomography is a cross-sectional imaging technique that can be used to conduct volumetric laser endomicroscopy (VLE) of the entire distal esophagus. We have developed a biopsy guidance platform that places endoscopically visible marks at VLE-determined biopsy sites.

Objective: The objective of this study was to demonstrate in human participants the safety and feasibility of VLE-guided biopsy in vivo.

Design: A pilot feasibility study.

Setting: Massachusetts General Hospital.

Patients: A total of 22 participants were enrolled from January 2011 to June 2012 with a prior diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus. Twelve participants were used to optimize the laser marking parameters and the system platform. A total of 30 target sites were selected and marked in real-time by using the VLE-guided biopsy platform in the remaining 10 participants.

Intervention: Volumetric laser endomicroscopy.

Main outcome measurements: Endoscopic and VLE visibility, and accuracy of VLE diagnosis of the tissue between the laser cautery marks.

Results: There were no adverse events of VLE and laser marking. The optimal laser marking parameters were determined to be 2 seconds at 410 mW, with a mark separation of 6 mm. All marks made with these parameters were visible on endoscopy and VLE. The accuracies for diagnosing tissue in between the laser cautery marks by independent blinded readers for endoscopy were 67% (95% confidence interval [CI], 47%-83%), for VLE intent-to-biopsy images 93% (95% CI, 78%-99%), and for corrected VLE post-marking images 100% when compared with histopathology interpretations.

Limitations: This is a single-center feasibility study with a limited number of patients.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that VLE-guided biopsy of the esophagus is safe and can be used to guide biopsy site selection based on the acquired volumetric optical coherence tomography imaging data. (

Clinical trial registration number: NCT01439633.).

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology*
  • Barrett Esophagus / surgery
  • Esophagoscopy / methods*
  • Esophagus / pathology*
  • Esophagus / surgery
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image-Guided Biopsy / methods*
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence

Associated data