Potential application of a handheld confocal endomicroscope imaging system using a variety of fluorophores in experimental gliomas and normal brain

Document Type



OBJECT: The authors sought to assess the feasibility of a handheld visible-wavelength confocal endomicroscope imaging system (Optiscan 5.1, Optiscan Pty., Ltd.) using a variety of rapid-acting fluorophores to provide histological information on gliomas, tumor margins, and normal brain in animal models. METHODS: Mice (n = 25) implanted with GL261 cells were used to image fluorescein sodium (FNa), 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA), acridine orange (AO), acriflavine (AF), and cresyl violet (CV). A U251 glioma xenograft model in rats (n = 5) was used to image sulforhodamine 101 (SR101). A swine (n = 3) model with AO was used to identify confocal features of normal brain. Images of normal brain, obvious tumor, and peritumoral zones were collected using the handheld confocal endomicroscope. Histological samples were acquired through biopsies from matched imaging areas. Samples were visualized with a benchtop confocal microscope. Histopathological features in corresponding confocal images and photomicrographs of H & E-stained tissues were reviewed. RESULTS: Fluorescence induced by FNa, 5-ALA, AO, AF, CV, and SR101 and detected with the confocal endomicroscope allowed interpretation of histological features. Confocal endomicroscopy revealed satellite tumor cells within peritumoral tissue, a definitive tumor border, and striking fluorescent cellular and subcellular structures. Fluorescence in various tumor regions correlated with standard histology and known tissue architecture. Characteristic features of different areas of normal brain were identified as well. CONCLUSIONS: Confocal endomicroscopy provided rapid histological information precisely related to the site of microscopic imaging with imaging characteristics of cells related to the unique labeling features of the fluorophores. Although experimental with further clinical trial validation required, these data suggest that intraoperative confocal imaging can help to distinguish normal brain from tumor and tumor margin and may have application in improving intraoperative decisions during resection of brain tumors.

Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Brain (metabolism, pathology); Brain Neoplasms (diagnosis, metabolism); Computers, Handheld; Disease Models, Animal; Female; Fluorescent Dyes; Glioma (diagnosis, metabolism); Mice; Mice, Inbred C57BL; Microscopy, Confocal (methods); Rats; Swine

Publication Date


Publication Title

Neurosurgical focus







First Page


PubMed ID


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)