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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2002 Feb;17 Suppl:S85-104.

New optical technologies for earlier endoscopic diagnosis of premalignant gastrointestinal lesions.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Ontario Cancer Institute/University Health Network, Canada.


Gastrointestinal malignancies continue to be the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the developed world. The early detection and treatment of gastrointestinal preneoplasms has been demonstrated to significantly improve patient survival. Conventional screening tools include standard white light endoscopy (WLE) and frequent surveillance with biopsy. Well-defined endoscopic surveillance biopsy protocols aimed at early detection of dysplasia and malignancy have been undertaken for groups at high risk. Unfortunately, the poor sensitivity associated with WLE is a significant limitation. In this regard, major efforts continue in the development and evaluation of alternative diagnostic techniques. This review will focus on notable developments made at the forefront of research in modern gastrointestinal endoscopy based on novel optical endoscopic modalities, which rely on the interactions of light with tissues. Here we present the 'state-of-the-art' in fluorescence endoscopic imaging and spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, optical coherence tomography, light scattering spectroscopy, chromoendoscopy, confocal fluorescence endoscopy, and immunofluorescence endoscopy. These new developments may offer significant improvements in the diagnosis of early lesions by allowing for targeted mucosal excisional biopsies, and perhaps may even provide 'optical biopsies' of equivalent histological accuracy. This enhancement of the endoscopist's ability to detect subtle preneoplastic changes in the gastrointestional mucosa in real time and improved staging of lesions could lead to curative endoscopic ablation of these lesions and, in the long term, improve patient survival and quality of life.

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