The purpose of this study was to understand the capabilities and utility of optical coherence tomography (OCT) in characterizing tissue in patients with precancer and cancer of the uterine cervix and vulva. OCT is an optical technique that uses low-coherence interferometer to develop a two-dimensional image of optical scattering from internal tissue microstructure. This study was designed to develop diagnostic criteria. Women undergoing colposcopic evaluation secondary to an abnormal Papanicolaou smear or visualized grossly abnormal vulvar lesion comprised the study population. Under colposcopic visualization, the OCT device was applied to normal regions in all patients and abnormal areas when present, and images were captured. Each subject then underwent multiple directed biopsies. Images were then reviewed and compared with matched histology. A total of 50 women were recruited for the study. Of the 50 patients evaluated, 18 had cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) II,III, 14 had CIN I, 13 had metaplasia/inflammation, two had invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix, and three had a diagnosis of Paget's disease of the vulva. Analysis of the OCT images showed a repetitive pattern that represented normal squamous epithelium of the cervix in 100% of the normal biopsies. Images of the 18 patients with histologically proven CIN II,III showed an unstructured homogeneous highly backscattering region with fast attenuation of the signal in 16 (89%) of the patients. OCT is a new approach for the early identification of cervix and vulvar malignancies. Using information inherent to the returning photon signals from tissue, early morphological and light-scattering changes can be detected during tumorigenesis. It has the potential to be a true optical biopsy. If diagnostically comparable to a biopsy, then clearly the ability of OCT to provide a point of service diagnosis would serve a significant advantage.
- cervix cancer
- optical coherence tomography
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