Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Clin Cancer Res. 2003 Oct 15;9(13):4714-21.

Confocal microscopy for real-time detection of oral cavity neoplasia.

Author information

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.



The goal of this study was to characterize features of normal and neoplastic oral mucosa using reflectance confocal microscopy.


Oral cavity biopsies were acquired from 17 patients at the Head and Neck Clinic of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center who were undergoing surgery for squamous cell carcinoma within the oral cavity. Reflectance confocal images were obtained at multiple image plane depths from biopsies within 6 h of excision. After imaging, biopsies were fixed in 10% formalin and submitted for routine histological examination. Reflectance confocal images were compared with histological images from the same sample to determine which tissue features contribute to image contrast and can be potentially imaged using in vivo confocal microscopy.


Confocal images were successfully acquired from 15 biopsy pairs from 17 patients. Depth-related changes in cell diameter and nuclear density were observed at multiple anatomical sites within the oral cavity. In squamous cell carcinomas, densely packed, pleomorphic tumor nuclei could be visualized with distinct differences in nuclear density and morphology distinguishable between confocal images of neoplastic and nonneoplastic oral cavity. Other features of noncancerous and cancerous oral tissue that could be identified in the confocal images included areas of inflammation, fibrosis, muscle fibers, and salivary glands.


Our results support the potential for this tool to play a significant role in the clinical evaluation of oral lesions, real-time identification of tumor margins, and monitoring of response to therapeutic treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center