Confocal laser endomicroscopy :A primer for pathologists

Peter E. Paull, Benjamin J. Hyatt, Wahid Wassef, Andrew H. Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Context.-The advent of new endoscopic optical techniques is likely to change pathologists' role in diagnosis. Objective.-To describe how confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE) works, show its advantages and limitations compared to cytohistologic biopsy, and explore how it may affect the practice of pathology. Data Sources.-Literature review. Conclusions.-Confocal laser endomicroscopy is proving its ability to provide histology-like images of tissues in vivo to help avoid risks and costs of conventional biopsies. Confocal imaging restricts light to 1 plane, emulating a paraffin section, and topical or systemic optical contrast agents allow subcellular resolution. New contrast agents could theoretically permit molecular characterization. In vivo imaging has begun to demonstrate novel, dynamic types of diagnostic features. Decreased histologic biopsies can be anticipated for a few scenarios. Significant limitations of CLE include the inability to create a tissue archive for broad molecular classification, suboptimal contrast agents, small fields of view and shallow penetration, paucity of clinical validation studies, and problems with reimbursement. Confocal laser endomicroscopy exposes new opportunities for pathologists: CLE technologies can be exploited in pathology, and diagnostic criteria expanded based on endoscopists' discoveries. Potential synergy exists between CLE and cytology, allowing the low-magnification diagnostic architectural changes by CLE and cytomorphology to emulate the full diagnostic information in a histologic biopsy while providing an archive of material for molecular or immunohistochemical studies. Confocal laser endomicroscopy will decrease some types of biopsies, but offers an opportunity for pathologists to find new ways to provide value and improve patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1343-1348
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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