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Polarized filter may reduce unnecessary cervical biopsies and surgeries
Date:11/29/2011

sy: sometimes biopsies also are misinterpreted, leading to unnecessary surgery.

Just as polarized glasses help fisherman see fish swimming below the water surface, polarized light, which focuses its energy in one direction, also enables physicians to better see beneath the surface of the cervix for telltale signs of trouble. In suspicious areas, blood vessels tend to be more dilated, farther apart and more randomly distributed. "We normally look at superficial blood vessels, but this takes us to a level we have not been able to see," said Ferris of the ability to see 1 millimeter (.04 inches) below the surface with the polarized filter.

Ferris got the idea that polarized light might enhance colposcopy from studying hundreds of images of the cervix taken for fluorescent spectroscopy, which uses a polarized filter to reduce the reflection created by fluorescent light. "I started seeing things that I had never seen before and it struck me that it might be of use in colposcopy," said Ferris, who was part of a study trying to teach computers to recognize cervical lesions.

Dermatologists have been using polarized filters for years to look at external skin surfaces. Some colposcopy machines, where the cervix is viewed through a monitor rather than a microscope, already are equipped with a polarized light filter to reduce glare. Most colposcopes now have green filters that block red light so blood vessels appear black and are easier to detect.

Studies have questioned colposcopy's accuracy. Two National Cancer Institute researchers concluded in a 2006 article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that colposcopy was missing cancerous lesions and efforts to improve accuracy were needed.

The bagel-shaped cervix is the door to the uterus, which produces mucus and helps keep a fetus in the womb during pregnancy. Biopsies of the thin-skinned organ can result in bleeding and increase infection risk.


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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@georgiahealth.edu
706-721-4421
Georgia Health Sciences University
Source:Eurekalert  

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