An integrated strategy for improving contrast, durability, and portability of a Pocket Colposcope for cervical cancer screening and diagnosis

PLoS One. 2018 Feb 9;13(2):e0192530. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192530. eCollection 2018.


Introduction: We have previously developed a portable Pocket Colposcope for cervical cancer screening in resource-limited settings. In this manuscript we report two different strategies (cross-polarization and an integrated reflector) to improve image contrast levels achieved with the Pocket Colposcope and evaluate the merits of each strategy compared to a standard-of-care digital colposcope. The desired outcomes included reduced specular reflection (glare), increased illumination beam pattern uniformity, and reduced electrical power budget. In addition, anti-fogging and waterproofing features were incorporated to prevent the Pocket Colposcope from fogging in the vaginal canal and to enable rapid disinfection by submersion in chemical agents.

Methods: Cross-polarization (Generation 3 Pocket Colposcope) and a new reflector design (Generation 4 Pocket Colposcope) were used to reduce glare and improve contrast. The reflector design (including the angle and height of the reflector sidewalls) was optimized through ray-tracing simulations. Both systems were characterized with a series of bench tests to assess specular reflection, beam pattern uniformity, and image contrast. A pilot clinical study was conducted to compare the Generation 3 and 4 Pocket Colposcopes to a standard-of-care colposcope (Leisegang Optik 2). Specifically, paired images of cervices were collected from the standard-of-care colposcope and either the Generation 3 (n = 24 patients) or the Generation 4 (n = 32 patients) Pocket Colposcopes. The paired images were blinded by device, randomized, and sent to an expert physician who provided a diagnosis for each image. Corresponding pathology was obtained for all image pairs. The primary outcome measures were the level of agreement (%) and κ (kappa) statistic between the standard-of-care colposcope and each Pocket Colposcope (Generation 3 and Generation 4).

Results: Both generations of Pocket Colposcope had significantly higher image contrast when compared to the standard-of-care colposcope. The addition of anti-fog and waterproofing features to the Generation 3 and 4 Pocket Colposcope did not impact image quality based on qualitative and quantitative metrics. The level of agreement between the Generation 3 Pocket Colposcope and the standard-of-care colposcope was 75.0% (kappa = 0.4000, p = 0.0028, n = 24). This closely matched the level of agreement between the Generation 4 Pocket Colposcope and the standard-of-care colposcope which was also 75.0% (kappa = 0.4941, p = 0.0024, n = 32).

Conclusion: Our results indicate that the Generation 3 and 4 Pocket Colposcopes perform comparably to the standard-of-care colposcope, with the added benefit of being low-cost and waterproof, which is ideal for use in resource-limited settings. Additionally, the reflector significantly reduces the electrical requirements of the Generation 4 Pocket Colposcope enhancing portability without altering performance compared to the Generation 3 system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Colposcopy / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*