Three-dimensional Optical Coherence Tomography for Optical Biopsy of Lymph Nodes and Assessment of Metastatic Disease
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Numerous techniques have been developed for localizing lymph nodes before surgical resection and for their histological assessment. Nondestructive high-resolution transcapsule optical imaging of lymph nodes offers the potential for in situ assessment of metastatic involvement, potentially during surgical procedures.
Three-dimensional optical coherence tomography (3-D OCT) was used for imaging and assessing resected popliteal lymph nodes from a preclinical rat metastatic tumor model over a 9-day time-course study after tumor induction. The spectral-domain OCT system utilized a center wavelength of 800 nm, provided axial and transverse resolutions of 3 and 12 μm, respectively, and performed imaging at 10,000 axial scans per second.
OCT is capable of providing high-resolution label-free images of intact lymph node microstructure based on intrinsic optical scattering properties with penetration depths of ~1–2 mm. The results demonstrate that OCT is capable of differentiating normal, reactive, and metastatic lymph nodes based on microstructural changes. The optical scattering and structural changes revealed by OCT from day 3 to day 9 after the injection of tumor cells into the lymphatic system correlate with inflammatory and immunological changes observed in the capsule, precortical regions, follicles, and germination centers found during histopathology.
We report for the first time a longitudinal study of 3-D transcapsule OCT imaging of intact lymph nodes demonstrating microstructural changes during metastatic infiltration. These results demonstrate the potential of OCT as a technique for intraoperative, real-time in situ 3-D optical biopsy of lymph nodes for the intraoperative staging of cancer.
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