Real-time imaging and characterization of human breast tissue by reflectance confocal microscopy

Maddalena T. Tilli, M. Carla Cabrera, Angela R. Parrish, Kathleen M. Torre, Mary K. Sidawy, Ann L. Gallagher, Erini Makariou, Sandra A. Polin, Minetta C. Liu, Priscilla A. Furth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Real-time technologies can increase the efficiency of obtaining informative biopsies and accelerate interpretation of biopsy pathological review. Cellular aberrations inherent to cancer cells, including nuclear size, can currently be detected, but few technologies are available to evaluate adequacy of specimens in real time. The aims of this study are: 1. to determine if near-infrared reflectance confocal microscopy (RCM) can be used to assess epithelial/stromal content of core needle breast biopsy samples in real time, 2. to determine if epithelial cell nuclear size can be measured on RCM images, and 3. to test if RCM images can be accurately read for presence/absence of histologically relevant features of malignancy. Breast biopsies are obtained following a medically indicated breast core needle diagnostic biopsy for RCM examination. Acetic acid is used as a contrast agent to visualize structures within breast tissue. Structures are identified and optically serially sectioned, and digital images are cataloged. Relative amounts of epithelial, fatty, and collagenous tissue are determined. RCM biopsies are formalin-fixed and stained for hematoxylin and eosin (H and E) comparison with RCM images. RCM data are comparable to data from H and E sections. Epithelial cell nuclear size is measured on stored digital RCM images. We compare RCM and H and E images from 16 patients and 25 core needle biopsy samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number051901
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Breast biopsy
  • Breast cancer
  • Core needle biopsy
  • Nondestructive pathology
  • Real-time imaging
  • Reflectance confocal microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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