Clinical Perspectives

Moffitt Uses Optical Biopsy to Identify Cancer Faster & Help Patients Avoid Unnecessary Surgery

March 01, 2014

Moffitt-Uses-Optical-Biopsy-to-Identify-Cancer-Faster-&-Help-Patients-Avoid-Unnecessary-Surgery Photo Courtesy of Mauna Kea Technologies.jpg

Moffitt is the first hospital in the Tampa region to offer optical biopsy for real-time microscopic analysis of the GI tract and lung.  The technology is designed to improve detection and provide faster treatment of pre-cancerous conditions and other digestive and respiratory diseases.

We launched this new technology known as Cellvizio in January 2014 to support diagnosis and treatment of Barrett’s esophagus and pancreatic cysts. Use of Cellvizio in patients with pancreatic cysts may reduce the number of unnecessary repeat endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)/fine needle aspiration (FNA) procedures. In Barrett’s esophagus, Cellvizio has the potential to detect more malignant lesions through better sampling, especially in areas that appear normal under endoscopic examination. The technology can also be used across specialties in patients with signs of esophageal, biliary, colon and lung cancer, as well as other digestive and respiratory diseases.

“The standard practice of using a surgical biopsy is imprecise, inefficient and inconvenient for patients. With Cellvizio our physicians can now determine whether a patient’s tissue appears benign or malignant through real-time visual analysis, which can support faster and more accurate treatment decisions.  The technology brings more visual information about internal tissues to our physicians than was ever possible before,” said Cynthia L. Harris, MD, gastroenterologist in the Division of Endoscopic Oncology.

To use Cellvizio, a tiny microscope is threaded through a traditional endoscope like a catheter or biopsy forceps. The microscope records and provides immediate and precise visual images of tissue during the endoscopy. The microstructure of digestive tract or other tissue appears on a screen, allowing the physician to identify and assess features that indicate healthy and diseased tissue. The use of Cellvizio adds only a few minutes to the standard endoscopic exam and has a proven safety record with no adverse events reported in thousands of cases.

Video courtesy of Mauna Kea Technologies

A growing body of published clinical data shows that by adding Cellvizio to colonoscopies, endoscopies, pancreatic, and pulmonary exams, physicians have been able to immediately differentiate cancerous and pre-cancerous changes in tissue. In some cases, physicians have been able to perform minimally invasive treatments for conditions that traditionally required major surgical operations based on the microscopic view generated by Cellvizio that led to improved understanding of the tissue.

“Cellvizio allows us to see the cells up close. With this previously unachievable real-time view, doctors can often make conclusive decisions regarding the best form of intervention and whether surgery is even necessary. We may be able to help reduce the risk of unnecessary surgery and to determine if there is a precancerous or cancerous area when traditional methods are inconclusive,” said Dr. Cynthia Harris.

As part of its Cellvizio Optical Biopsy Program, Moffitt plans to investigate the potential benefits of this innovative new technology, not only in gastroenterology, but also in other specialties, including pulmonary, urology, and neurosurgery. Dr. Harris and a cross-specialty team will also play a key role in educating visiting physicians from other top U.S. medical centers on the clinical and investigative use of this technology during training courses held at Moffitt throughout the coming years.

As of 2014, Moffitt is one of about 70 centers in the United States using the Cellvizio confocal probe. Cellvizio is cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in the GI tract and lung.