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Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust study shows OCT provides biopsy alternative

Michelson Diagnostics : 01 August, 2007  (New Product)
Michelson Diagnostics (MDL) has released successful initial results from clinical testing of its groundbreaking OCT imaging technology by partner Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The tests were performed by Gloucestershire Royal Hospital’s scientists on cancerous and pre-cancerous human oesophagus and lymph node tissue. The tests were designed to establish the potential for MDL’s optical imaging technology to revolutionise cancer surgery.

The tests involved comparing images taken by the MDL scanner of the tissue samples, with histopathology images analysed by trained pathologists.

Biophotonics expert at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Florian Bazant-Hegemark, said: “Clinical features of oesophagus tissue and of lymph nodes can be established, in real time, with the MDL OCT scanner. This is very exciting, because it means that OCT scanning has a realistic chance of guiding biopsy and of reducing the need for biopsy, which could speed up cancer operations, reduce the pressure on overloaded pathology departments, and improve outcomes from cancer surgery. The next stage is to confirm these preliminary results in large double-blinded trials”.

With cancer claiming more than one million lives annually in Europe (Ref 1) and surgical removal often essential for a cure, surgeons must be sure that they have cut a safe ‘margin’ of healthy tissue around the tumour to ensure that none is left behind. This is difficult, because removing too much may severely affect the patient’s quality of life and removing too little means that cancerous tissue may be left behind.

Surgeons sometimes take biopsy samples of tissue in the tumour margin for laboratory analysis, but have to wait for the result before they can resume the operation. The biopsy procedure is expensive and inefficient.

MDL offers a potential solution: by providing high-resolution sub-surface images of excised tissue during the operation, the surgeon could scan the tumour margins and decide, in real time, where to cut. The new technology is based on ‘Optical Coherence Tomography’ (OCT), and provides images of soft tissue at far higher resolution than is possible with Ultrasound or MRI scans.

Ref 1 - Source: Cancer Research UK, cited data from: Quinn, MJ, et al, “Cancer mortality trends in the EU and acceding countries up to 2015”. Ann Oncol, 2003. 14(7): p. 1148-1152.
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