Surgical Endoscopy

, Volume 25, Issue 7, pp 2247-2253

First online:

Results of a phase I–II study on intraductal confocal microscopy (IDCM) in patients with common bile duct (CBD) stenosis

  • M. GiovanniniAffiliated withEndoscopic Unit, Paoli-Calmettes Institute Email author 
  • , E. BoriesAffiliated withEndoscopic Unit, Paoli-Calmettes Institute
  • , G. MongesAffiliated withBiopathology Unit, Paoli-Calmettes Institute
  • , C. PesentiAffiliated withEndoscopic Unit, Paoli-Calmettes Institute
  • , F. CaillolAffiliated withEndoscopic Unit, Paoli-Calmettes Institute
  • , J. R. DelperoAffiliated withSurgery Unit, Paoli-Calmettes Institute

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Confocal endomicroscopy is an emergent technique and allows real optical biopsies in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The aim of this study was to evaluate a new intraductal confocal miniprobe in patients with a normal common bile duct (CBD) or with a suspicion of a malignant stenosis (cholangiocarcinoma).


Thirty-seven patients (23 males) underwent endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) for bile duct stone removal (7 cases) or bile duct stenosis (30 cases). Intraductal confocal microscopy (IDCM) was performed during the ERCP using a probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE) technique. IDCM was done with the CholangioFlex probe with Cellvizio (Mauna Kea Technologies, Paris, France). The depth of penetration of theCholangioFlex probe was 40–70 μm and magnification was 400×. Images were reviewed by an experienced pathologist in GI disease and compared to ERCP findings, CBD biopsies performed during ERCP or EUS, and in 15 patients to the resected specimen (Wipple resection).


No complications related to the CholangioFlex insertion occurred after the ERCP. Good images were obtained in 33 patients. Final histology diagnosis was a normal CBD in 7 cases, 23 malignant stenoses (4 ampullary carcinomas, 13 cholangiocarcinomas, and 6 pancreatic cancer), and 7 inflammatory stenoses (4 chronic pancreatitis, 1 stenosis of hepaticojejunal anastomosis, 1 postcholecystectomy CBD stenosis, and 1 primary sclerosing cholangitis). IDCM of a normal CBD showed a thin black band (<20 μm), normal vessels (thin and regular), and no visible glands. IDCM of malignant strictures revealed irregular vessels with lack of contrast in the CBD wall, large black band (>20 μm), and an aggregate of irregular black cells (black clumps). These aspects were seen in all malignant stenoses and none were seen in benign or normal CBD. The presence of irregular vessels, large black bands, and black clumps seen with confocal laser microscopy enabled prediction of neoplasia with an accuracy rate of 86%, sensitivity of 83%, and specificity of 75%. The respective numbers for standard histopathology were 53, 65, and 53%.


This phase I–II study on IDCM showed that IDCM is feasible. This new technique will open a new door for optical biopsy of the CBD.


Pancreato Bilio Endoscopy CBD (common bile duct) Tissue Imaging & VR