August 17, 2011
Near-Infrared Imaging System Shows Promise As Future Pancreatic Cancer Diagnostic Tool
A team of researchers from four Boston-area institutions led by Nicusor Iftimia from Physical Sciences, Inc. has demonstrated for the first time that optical coherence tomography (OCT), a high resolution optical imaging technique that works by bouncing near-infrared laser light off biological tissue, can reliably distinguish between pancreatic cysts that are low-risk and high-risk for becoming malignant. Other optical techniques often fail to provide images that are clear enough for doctors to differentiate between the two types.
To test the diagnostic potential of OCT imaging, researchers used the technique to examine surgically removed pancreatic tissue samples from patients with cystic lesions. By identifying unique features of the high-risk cysts that appeared in the OCT scans, the team developed a set of visual criteria to differentiate between high and low risk cysts. They then tested the criteria by comparing OCT diagnoses to those obtained by examining thin slices of the pancreatic tissue under a microscope. Their results, described in the August issue of the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express, showed that OCT allowed clinicians to reliably differentiate between low-risk and high-risk cysts with a success rate close to that achieved by microscope-assisted examinations of slices of the same samples.
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