Coherence Domain Probes for Esophageal Imaging

In the esophagus, repeated exposure to stomach acid caused by gastric reflux can transform a portion of esophageal tissue into stomach-like cells.  This condition, known as Barrett’s esophagus, carries an elevated risk for the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma.  Optical coherence tomography (OCT) can produce high-resolution cross-sectional images of the esophagus, revealing the presence and location of any BE.  To image the esophagus, a fiber optic probe must be deployed.  We have recently developed a 3D-printed probe that attaches to an endoscope to allow an endoscopist to obtain OCT images from any areas of interest seen during a typical endoscopic imaging procedure.

While a map of BE is useful information on its own, the key to surveillance of BE is detecting dysplasia, a precancerous transformation.  Dysplastic tissue is typically characterized by enlarged nuclei and is thus scatter light at different angles compared to normal-sized nuclei.  Our lab has developed another coherence-domain (depth-sensitive) optical method for measuring nuclear size using the angular profile of light scattering known as angle-resolved Low-Coherence Interformetry (a/LCI).  In the past, we have shown that a/LCI can detect esophageal dysplasia in a standalone probe.  We are now integrating a/LCI technology with our recently developed 3D printed paddle probes to provide a reading on dysplasia, as well as OCT images of Barrett’s esophagus, during a single procedure.  And because the current standard therapy for dysplasia is radiofrequency ablation using a different paddle-shaped endoscopic attachment, our imaging and detection probe could one day be combined with a therapeutic modality as well.

Coherence Domain Probes for Esophageal Imaging
Coherence Domain Probes for Esophageal Imaging

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Associated Lab Members


  • Ken Chu
  • Evan Jelly
  • Zachary Steelman
  • Haoran Zhang