The fluorescence confocal microendoscope provides high-resolution, in vivo imaging of cellular pathology during optical biopsy. The confocal microendoscope employs a flexible fiber-optic catheter coupled to a custom-built slit-scan confocal microscope. The catheter consists of a fiber-optic imaging bundle linked to a miniature objective and focus assembly. The 3-mm-diameter catheter may be used on its own or routed though the instrument channel of a commercial endoscope, adding microscopic imaging capability to conventional endoscopy. The design and performance of the miniature objective and focus assembly are discussed. Primary applications of the system include diagnosis of disease in the gastrointestinal tract and female reproductive system.
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