Advances in Gastrointestinal ImagingView this Special Issue
Fluorescence and Spectral Imaging
Early identification of dysplasia remains a critical goal for diagnostic endoscopy since early discovery directly improves patient survival because it allows endoscopic or surgical intervention with disease localized without lymph node involvement. Clinical studies have successfully used tissue autofluorescence with conventional white light endoscopy and biopsy for detecting adenomatous colonic polyps, differentiating benign hyperplastic from adenomas with acceptable sensitivity and specificity. In Barrett's esophagus, the detection of dysplasia remains problematic because of background inflammation, whereas in the squamous esophagus, autofluorescence imaging appears to be more dependable. Point fluorescence spectroscopy, although playing a crucial role in the pioneering mechanistic development of fluorescence endoscopic imaging, does not seem to have a current function in endoscopy because of its nontargeted sampling and suboptimal sensitivity and specificity. Other point spectroscopic modalities, such as Raman spectroscopy and elastic light scattering, continue to be evaluated in clinical studies, but still suffer the significant disadvantages of being random and nonimaging. A recent addition to the fluorescence endoscopic imaging arsenal is the use of confocal fluorescence endomicroscopy, which provides real-time optical biopsy for the first time. To improve detection of dysplasia in the gastrointestinal tract, a new and exciting development has been the use of exogenous fluorescence contrast probes that specifically target a variety of disease-related cellular biomarkers using conventional fluorescent dyes and novel potent fluorescent nanocrystals (i.e., quantum dots). This is an area of great promise, but still in its infancy, and preclinical studies are currently under way.