There has been significant interest in developing depth-selective optical interrogation of biological tissue in general and of superficial (e.g., mucosal) tissue in particular. We report an in vivo polarization-gating fiber-optic probe that obtains backscattering spectroscopic measurements from a range of near-surface depths (100-200 μm). The design and testing was performed with polarized light Monte Carlo simulations and in tissue model experiments. We used the probe to investigate mucosal changes in early carcinogenesis. Measurements performed in the colonic mucosa of 125 human subjects provide the first in vivo evidence that mucosal blood supply is increased early in carcinogenesis, not only in precancerous adenomatous lesions, but also in the histologically normal-appearing tissue surrounding these lesions. This effect was primarily limited to the mucosal microcirculation and was not present in the larger blood vessels located deeper in colonic tissue.
© 2008 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article