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Probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE) is an emerging optical imaging technology that enables real-time in vivo microscopy of mucosal surfaces during standard endoscopy. With applications currently in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, CLE has also been explored in the urinary tract for bladder cancer diagnosis. Cellular morphology and tissue microarchitecture can be resolved with micron scale resolution in real time, in addition to dynamic imaging of the normal and pathological vasculature. The probe-based CLE system (Cellvizio, Mauna Kea Technologies, France) consists of a reusable fiberoptic imaging probe coupled to a 488 nm laser scanning unit. The imaging probe is inserted in the working channels of standard flexible and rigid endoscopes. An endoscope-based CLE system (Optiscan, Australia), in which the confocal endomicroscopy functionality is integrated onto the endoscope, is also used in the gastrointestinal tract. Given the larger scope diameter, however, application in the urinary tract is currently limited to ex vivo use. Confocal image acquisition is done through direct contact of the imaging probe with the target tissue and recorded as video sequences. As in the gastrointestinal tract, endomicroscopy of the urinary tract requires an exogenenous contrast agent-most commonly fluorescein, which can be administered intravenously or intravesically. Intravesical administration is a well-established method to introduce pharmacological agents locally with minimal systemic toxicity that is unique to the urinary tract. Fluorescein rapidly stains the extracellular matrix and has an established safety profile. Imaging probes of various diameters enable compatibility with different caliber endoscopes. To date, 1.4 and 2.6 mm probes have been evaluated with flexible and rigid cystoscopy. Recent availability of a < 1 mm imaging probe opens up the possibility of CLE in the upper urinary tract during ureteroscopy. Fluorescence cystoscopy (i.e. photodynamic diagnosis) and narrow band imaging are additional endoscope-based optical imaging modalities that can be combined with CLE to achieve multimodal imaging of the urinary tract. In the future, CLE may be coupled with molecular contrast agents such as fluorescently labeled peptides and antibodies for endoscopic imaging of disease processes with molecular specificity.

Citation

Timothy C Chang, Jen-Jane Liu, Joseph C Liao. Probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy of the urinary tract: the technique. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2013(71):e4409

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PMID: 23354133

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