By combining three previously unrelated imaging tools into one new device, a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and the University of Southern California has proposed a new way to diagnose early-stage ovarian cancer in high-risk women through minimally invasive surgery. The new technique may be better than the current standard procedure of preemptively removing the ovaries.
Ovarian cancer has a low survival rate because a lack of reliable screening techniques usually means the disease remains hidden until the later stages. Now researchers have drawn on the unique advantages of multiple imaging tools to test a new way of spotting early-on the tissue irregularities that signal cancer.
For their diagnostic device, the researchers combined the contrast provided by photoacoustic imaging, the high-resolution subsurface imaging provided by optical coherence tomography, and the deeper tissue imaging provided by pulse-echo ultrasound. They tested their device, described by the team in the September issue of the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express, by imaging both pig and human ovarian tissue, and correctly identified malignant tumors that were later confirmed by staining the tissue and examining it under a microscope. These initial tests were performed on tissue that had been surgically removed, but the diameter of the device at only 5 mm is small enough that it could potentially be inserted through a small slit to image tissue in live patients.
"Integrated optical coherence tomography, ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging for ovarian tissue characterization," Yang et al., Biomedical Optics Express, Volume 2, Issue 9, pp. 2551-2561. www.opticsinfobase.org/boe/abstract.cfm?uri=boe-2-9-2551