Differentiation of healthy and malignant tissue in colon cancer patients using optical spectroscopy: A tool for image-guided surgery

G.C. Langhout*, J.W. Spliethoff, S. J. Schmitz, A.G.J. Aalbers, M.L.F. van Velthuysen, B.H.W. Hendriks, T.J.M. Ruers, K.F.D. Kuhlmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Surgery for colorectal cancer aims for complete tumor resection. Optical-based techniques can identify tumor and surrounding tissue through the tissue specific optical properties, absorption and scattering, which are both influenced by the biochemical and morphological composition of the tissue.

Objective: To evaluate the feasibility of dual-modality Diffuse Reflectance Spectroscopy-Fluorescence Spectroscopy (DRS-FS) for discrimination between healthy and malignant tissue in colorectal surgery.

Methods: Surgical specimens from colorectal cancer patients were measured immediately after resection using a fiber-optic needle capable of dual-modality DRS-FS. Model-based analyses were used to derive scattering and absorption coefficients and intrinsic fluorescence. Volume fractions of chromophores were estimated. Furthermore, optical data were recorded along a trajectory from healthy tissue towards tumor.

Results: Spectral characteristics were identified in 1,273 measured spectra from 21 specimens. Combined DRS and FS discriminated tumor from surrounding tissue with a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 88%. Significant spectral changes were seen along the trajectory from healthy tissue to tumor.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that dual-modality DRS-FS can identify colorectal cancer from surrounding healthy tissue. The quantification of comprehensible parameters allows robust classification and facilitates extrapolation towards the clinical setting. The technique, here demonstrated in a needle like probe, can be incorporated into surgical tools for optically guided surgery in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-565
Number of pages7
JournalLasers in surgery and medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy
  • Fluorescence
  • Image guided surgery
  • Optical spectroscopy
  • Surgery
  • n/a OA procedure


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