Ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence microscopy accurately classifies precancerous and cancerous human cervix free of labeling

Xianxu Zeng, Xiaoan Zhang, Canyu Li, Xiaofang Wang, Jason Jerwick, Tao Xu, Yuan Ning, Yihong Wang, Linlin Zhang, Zhan Zhang, Yutao Ma, Chao Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Cervical cancer remains the fourth most common cause of cancer worldwide and the third leading cause of cancer deaths for women in developing countries. Traditional screening tools, such as human papillomavirus and Pap tests, cannot provide results in real-time and cannot localize suspicious regions. Colposcopy-directed biopsies are invasive in nature and only a few sites of the cervix may be chosen for investigation. A non-invasive, label-free and real-time imaging method with a resolution approaching that of histopathology is desirable for early detection of the disease. Methods: Ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence microscopy (OCM) is an emerging imaging technique used to obtain 3-dimensional (3-D) "optical biopsies" of biological samples with cellular resolution. In this study, 497 3-D OCM datasets from 159 specimens were collected from 92 patients. Results: Distinctive patterns for normal cervix, squamocolumnar junction, ectropion, low-grade and high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL and HSIL) and invasive cervical lesions were clearly observed from OCM images, which matched well with corresponding histological slides. OCM images demonstrated a sensitivity of 80% (95% confidence interval, CI, 72%-86%) and a specificity of 89% (95% CI, 84%-93%) for detecting high-risk lesions (HSIL and invasive lesions) when blindly tested by three investigators. A substantial inter-observer agreement was observed (Κ=0.627), which showed high diagnostic consistency among three investigators. Conclusion: These results laid the foundation for future non-invasive optical evaluation of cervical tissue in vivo, which could lead to a less invasive and more effective screening and "see-and-treat" strategy for the management of cervical cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3099-3110
Number of pages12
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2018


  • Cervical cancer
  • Optical biopsy
  • Optical coherence microscopy (OCM)
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
  • Screening


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