Gastrointestinal (GI) tract cancer is one of the most prevalent types of cancer in the United States with approximately 13,000 new cases diagnosed annually. Currently, dysplasia and early cancer is found only by extensive biopsies, which is an invasive technique and has a long turn-around time. In addition, the standard biopsy technique can only provides limited sampling (3-5 %) of the mucosal surface where dysplasia and carcinoma may be found.
To address these problems, we developed a novel hyperspectral imaging (HSI) system based on laser-induced synchronous fluorescence for rapid, non-invasive, in vivo identification and characterization of various degrees of malignancies in the GI tract. The system uses state-of-the-art liquid crystal tunable filter coupled to an endoscope to obtain spatially resolved images of the slight differences in fluorescent properties of malignant and normal tissues at various wavelengths. Since the measurement can be conducted during routine gastrointestinal endoscopy examination, it provides a method for faster, non-invasive, and in vivo analysis without biopsy. The unique imaging aspect of this system will provide detailed spatial information of targeted tissues, allowing for comprehensive diagnosis of large areas of interest. Optimization of the fiberscope design for the current synchronous fluorescence imaging system has been carried out, which could offer higher sensitivity and rapid and real-time optical diagnostic information useful in surgical-assisted applications. Clinical studies are being conducted on human subjects at the Thompson Cancer Survival Center in Knoxville, Tennessee.