PURPOSE: Intraoperative optical biopsy technologies may aid identification of important anatomic landmarks and improve surgical outcomes of robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP). We sought to evaluate the feasibility of confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE) during RARP.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-one patients with biopsy-proven prostate cancer scheduled for RARP were recruited. After intravenous administration of fluorescein, 15 patients underwent in vivo intraoperative CLE of prostatic and periprostatic structures using either a 2.6-mm or 0.85-mm imaging probe. Standard robotic instruments were used to grasp and maneuver the CLE probes for image acquisition. CLE imaging was performed ex vivo on fresh prostate specimens from 20 patients. Confocal video sequences acquired in vivo and ex vivo were reviewed and analyzed, with additional image processing using a mosaicing algorithm. Processed confocal images were compared with standard hematoxylin and eosin analysis of imaged regions.
RESULTS: CLE was successfully integrated with robotic surgery, including co-registration of confocal video sequences with white light and probe handling with standard robotic instrumentation. Intraoperative CLE imaging of the neurovascular bundle prior to and following nerve-sparing dissection revealed characteristic features including dynamic vascular flow and intact axon fibers. Ex vivo confocal imaging of the prostatic parenchyma demonstrated the normal prostatic glands, stroma, and prostate carcinoma.
CONCLUSIONS: We report the initial feasibility of optical biopsy of prostatic and periprostatic tissue during RARP. Image guidance and tissue interrogation using CLE offers a new intraoperative imaging method that has the potential to improve the functional and oncologic outcomes of prostate cancer surgery.
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