UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Quantification of confocal fluorescence microscopy for the detection of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia Sheikhzadeh, Fahime; Ward, Rabab K; Carraro, Anita; Chen, Zhao Y; van Niekerk, Dirk; Miller, Dianne; Ehlen, Tom; MacAulay, Calum E; Follen, Michele; Lane, Pierre M; Guillaud, Martial


Background: Cervical cancer remains a major health problem, especially in developing countries. Colposcopic examination is used to detect high-grade lesions in patients with a history of abnormal pap smears. New technologies are needed to improve the sensitivity and specificity of this technique. We propose to test the potential of fluorescence confocal microscopy to identify high-grade lesions. Methods We examined the quantification of ex vivo confocal fluorescence microscopy to differentiate among normal cervical tissue, low-grade Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN), and high-grade CIN. We sought to (1) quantify nuclear morphology and tissue architecture features by analyzing images of cervical biopsies; and (2) determine the accuracy of high-grade CIN detection via confocal microscopy relative to the accuracy of detection by colposcopic impression. Forty-six biopsies obtained from colposcopically normal and abnormal cervical sites were evaluated. Confocal images were acquired at different depths from the epithelial surface and histological images were analyzed using in-house software. Results The features calculated from the confocal images compared well with those features obtained from the histological images and histopathological reviews of the specimens (obtained by a gynecologic pathologist). The correlations between two of these features (the nuclear-cytoplasmic ratio and the average of three nearest Delaunay-neighbors distance) and the grade of dysplasia were higher than that of colposcopic impression. The sensitivity of detecting high-grade dysplasia by analysing images collected at the surface of the epithelium, and at 15 and 30 μm below the epithelial surface were respectively 100, 100, and 92 %. Conclusions Quantitative analysis of confocal fluorescence images showed its capacity for discriminating high-grade CIN lesions vs. low-grade CIN lesions and normal tissues, at different depth of imaging. This approach could be used to help clinicians identify high-grade CIN in clinical settings.

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