Assessment of Nuclear Nanomorphology Marker to Improve the Detection of Malignancy From Bile Duct Biopsy Specimens

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The accurate diagnosis of malignancy from small bile duct biopsy specimens is often challenging. This proof-of-concept study assessed the feasibility of a novel optical technology, spatial-domain low-coherence quantitative phase microscopy (SL-QPM), that assesses nanoscale structural alterations in epithelial nuclei for improving the diagnosis of malignancy in bile duct biopsy specimens.


The SL-QPM analysis was performed on standard histology specimens of bile duct biopsy specimens from 45 patients. We analyzed normal cells with benign follow-up, histologically normal cells with pancreaticobiliary malignancy, and malignant epithelial cells.


The SL-QPM-derived nuclear nanomorphology marker can not only distinguish benign and malignant epithelial cells but can also detect features of malignancy in those cells normal by light microscopy with a discriminatory accuracy of 0.90. When combining pathology with SL-QPM, the sensitivity is improved to 88.5% from 65.4% of conventional pathology, while maintaining 100% specificity.


SL-QPM-derived nuclear nanomorphology markers represent a novel approach for detecting malignancy from histologically normal-appearing epithelial cells, with potential as an adjunctive test in patients with negative or inconclusive pathologic diagnosis on bile duct biopsy specimens.

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