Integrated optical tools for minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment at gastrointestinal endoscopy
Over the past two decades, the bulk of gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopic procedures has shifted away from diagnostic and therapeutic interventions for symptomatic disease toward cancer prevention in asymptomatic patients. This shift has resulted largely from a decrease in the incidence of peptic ulcer disease in the era of antisecretory medications coupled with emerging evidence for the efficacy of endoscopic detection and eradication of dysplasia, a histopathological biomarker widely accepted as a precursor to cancer. This shift has been accompanied by a drive toward minimally invasive, in situ optical diagnostic technologies that help to assess the mucosa for cellular changes that relate to dysplasia. Two competing but complementary approaches have been pursued. The first approach is based on broad-view targeting of “areas of interest” or “red flags”. These broad-view technologies include standard white light endoscopy (WLE), high-definition endoscopy (HD), and “electronic” chromoendoscopy (narrow-band-type imaging). The second approach is based on multiple small area or point-source (meso/micro) measurements, which can be either machine (spectroscopy) or human-interpreted (endomicroscopy, magnification endoscopy), much as histopatholgy slides are. In this paper we present our experience with the development and testing of a set of familiar but “smarter” standard tissue-sampling tools that can be routinely employed during screening/surveillance endoscopy. These tools have been designed to incorporate fiberoptic probes that can mediate spectroscopy or endomicroscopy. We demonstrate the value of such tools by assessing their preliminary performance from several ongoing clinical studies. Our results have shown promise for a new generation of integrated optical tools for a variety of screening/surveillance applications during GI endoscopy. Integrated devices should prove invaluable for dysplasia surveillance strategies that currently result in large numbers of benign biopsies, which are of little clinical consequence, including screening for colorectal polyps and surveillance of “flat” dysplasia such as Barrett’s esophagus and chronic colitis due to inflammatory bowel diseases.