Researchers at Orel State University in Russia have developed a biopsy system that can distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissue in many clinical cases. The device is designed to address the difficulties that clinicians may experience when attempting to biopsy a liver tumor, where it can be difficult to tell if the needle is in the correct location with small, early-stage tumors. The system uses a combination of lifetime fluorescence measurements and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy to identify a tumor.
Obtaining a biopsy of the tumor is an important first step in identifying its characteristics, allowing doctors to plan treatments accordingly. However, it can be difficult to know for sure whether the tissue you just removed with a hollow needle is actually from the tumor itself, especially if the tumor is small and within the abdominal cavity.
These Russian researchers have designed a biopsy system that could help. “Optical biopsy methods like the one we developed allow us to differentiate healthy and tumor tissues with a high degree of precision,” said Elena V. Potapova, a researcher involved in this latest study. “Although our system was specifically designed for use in abdominal surgery, our results show that similar technologies could be useful for other medical applications.”
The technology combines two different modalities to identify tumor tissues in near real time. The first is diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, which measures how the analyzed tissue reflects light, and the second is called fluorescence shelf life analysis. This involves inducing fluorescence by shining a specific wavelength of light onto tissue and then calculating how long it takes for the fluorescent signal to fade.
Molecules that are involved in cell metabolism within a tissue affect the duration of fluorescence. As cancer cells have significantly altered metabolism, the technique is useful in quickly determining the status of the cancer. “Although our team, like others, has previously used fluorescence intensity for tissue assessment, studies in other parts of the body have shown that fluorescence lifespan is less dependent on experimental conditions,” he said. Potapova. “Fluorescence shelf life measurements remain more consistent in the presence of blood, when there is non-uniform illumination, or if probe-tissue contact changes due to movement.”
The probe is only 1mm in diameter and the system is compatible with standard 17.5G biopsy needles.
To study in Biomedical Optics Express: Lifetime fluorescence optical needle biopsy discriminates hepatocellular carcinoma