Research ArticleBrain Imaging

Detection of human brain cancer infiltration ex vivo and in vivo using quantitative optical coherence tomography

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Science Translational Medicine  17 Jun 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 292, pp. 292ra100
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3010611

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Observing cancer with OCT

The label-free imaging technology optical coherence tomography (OCT) is used routinely in the clinic for detecting abnormalities in certain tissues, such as in the eye. Now, Kut et al. demonstrate that OCT can differentiate different grades of human brain cancer from noncancer in rodents and in patient tissue samples. Fresh human brain cancer and noncancer tissues that had been surgically removed were used to generate “optimal attenuation thresholds” for high- and low-grade cancers. These thresholds were then used by blinded pathologists to diagnose cancer in a separate set of tissues, showing 100% specificity and 80% sensitivity for high-grade brain cancer (and 80% specificity and 100% sensitivity for low-grade brain cancer). To demonstrate the potential of this technology during neurosurgery, mice had their human tumors removed with the guidance of OCT “maps” that displayed color-coded optical properties of the tissue. Thus, surgeons were able to remove only the cancerous areas, as confirmed by histology. Such real-time, intraoperative imaging to ensure total cancer resection will markedly improve patient survival.

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