This work aims to develop a clinically compatible system that can perform breast tissue analysis in a more time efficient process than conventional histopathological assessment. The potential for such a system to be used in vivo in the operating room or surgical suite to improve patient outcome is investigated.
In this work, 80 matched pairs of invasive ductal carcinoma and adjacent normal breast tissue were measured in a combined time‐resolved fluorescence and diffuse reflectance (DA) system. Following measurement, the fluorescence intensity of collagen and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD); the fluorescence lifetime of collagen, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH), and FAD; the DA; absorption coefficient; and reduced scattering coefficient were extracted. Samples then underwent histological processing and H&E staining to classify composition as tumor, fibroglandular, and/or adipose tissue.
Statistically significant differences in the collagen and FAD fluorescence intensity, collagen and FAD fluorescence lifetime, DA, and scattering coefficient were found between each tissue group. The NADH fluorescence lifetime and absorption coefficient were statistically different between the tumor and fibroglandular groups, and the tumor and adipose groups. While many breast tissue analysis studies label fibroglandular and adipose together as “normal” breast tissue, this work indicates that some differences between tumor and fibroglandular tissue are not the same as differences between tumor and adipose tissue. Observations of the reduced scatter coefficient may also indicate further classification to include fibro‐adipose may be necessary. Future work would benefit from the additional tissue classification.
With observable differences in optical parameters between the three tissue types, this system shows promise as a breast analysis tool in a clinical setting. With further work involving samples of mixed composition, this combined system could potentially be used intraoperatively for rapid margin assessment.