Distinguishing Tumor from Associated Fibrosis to Increase Diagnostic Biopsy Yield with Polarization-Sensitive Optical Coherence Tomography

Clin Cancer Res. 2019 Sep 1;25(17):5242-5249. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-0566. Epub 2019 Jun 7.


Purpose: With recent advancements in personalized medicine, biopsies must contain sufficient tumor for histologic diagnosis and molecular testing. However, inadvertent biopsy of tumor-associated fibrosis compromises tumor yield, resulting in delayed diagnoses and/or repeat procedures when additional tumor is needed. The ability to differentiate tumor from fibrosis intraprocedurally during biopsy could significantly increase tumor yield. Polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) is an imaging modality that is endoscope- and/or needle-compatible, and provides large volumetric views of tissue microstructure with high resolution (∼10 μm) while simultaneously measuring birefringence of organized tissues such as collagen. We aim to determine whether PS-OCT can accurately detect and distinguish tumor-associated fibrosis from tumor.

Experimental design: PS-OCT was obtained ex vivo in 64 lung nodule samples. PS-OCT birefringence was measured and correlated to collagen content in precisely matched histology, quantified on picrosirius red (PSR) staining.

Results: There was a strong positive correlation between PS-OCT measurement of birefringent fibrosis and total collagen content by PSR (r = 0.793; P < 0.001). In addition, PS-OCT was able to accurately classify tumor regions with >20% fibrosis from those with low fibrosis (≤20%) that would likely yield higher tumor content (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: PS-OCT enables accurate fibrosis detection and can distinguish tumor regions with low fibrosis. PS-OCT has significant potential for clinical impact, as the ability to differentiate tumor from fibrosis could be used to guide intraprocedural tissue sampling in vivo, or for rapid biopsy adequacy assessment ex vivo, to increase diagnostic tumor yield essential for patient care and research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Fibrosis / pathology
  • Fibrosis / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung / surgery
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Polarization / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods