How 3D imaging could improve screening for colorectal cancer

By using a technology called photometric stereo endoscopy, researchers at MIT and the Harvard Medical School are able to capture the topography of the colon surface and create a 3D image to screen for precancerous lesions of the colon.

By using a technology called photometric stereo endoscopy, researchers at MIT and the Harvard Medical School are able to capture the topography of the colon surface and create a 3D image to screen for precancerous lesions of the colon.

The technology was jointly developed in order to improve on the standard of 2D imaging of traditional endoscopies that can sometimes miss or incorrectly classify certain lesions, according to The Cancer Network.

It works by creating both 2D and 3D images, which provides more information for a clinician to make a more accurate diagnosis. Standard color video endoscopes using fiber optic cameras for screening rely on color contrasts to identify precancerous and cancerous lesions, but the light of the camera can minimize the detection of lesions with more pronounced topological changes in the colon, rather than tissue coloring, according to the article.

With photometric stereo endoscopy, precancerous lesions are more easily detected, Nicholas Durr, a a research fellow at the Madrid-MIT M+Visión Consortium and the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, in a statement.

Durr and his colleagues created a benchtop prototype system and a modified commercial endoscope to create multiple light sources to capture images, and created software to construct 3D images of the surface of the colon. At least three sources of light are needed for a more accurate spatial representation of the surfaces in the colon, according to the researchers.

The system was tested on an anatomical “phantom” as well as on ex vivo human tissue from surgical resections, and the results found that the system can detect both protruding as well as flatter lesions. It is currently being tested in a clinical trial both at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Hospital Clínico San Carlos in Madrid.

The results of the research were published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics.

View the Cancer Network article

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