While the most common method used to evaluate and survey patients with Barrett’s Esophagus (BE) is endoscopic biopsy, this procedure is invasive, time-consuming, and suffers from sampling errors. Moreover, it requires patient sedation that increases cost and mandates its operation in specialized settings. Our lab has developed a new imaging tool termed tethered capsule endomicroscopy (TCE) that involves swallowing a tethered capsule which utilizes optical coherence tomography (OCT) to obtain three-dimensional microscopic (10µm) images of the entire esophageal wall as it traverses the luminal organ via peristalsis or is retrieved by pulling up tether. As opposed to endoscopy, TCE procedure is non-invasive, doesn’t require patient sedation and mitigates sampling error by evaluating the microscopic structure of the entire esophagus. The merits of TCE make it a suitable device to investigate the microscopic natural history of BE in a longitudinal manner.
Here, we present our initial experience of a multicenter (5-site) clinical trial to study the microscopic natural history of BE. The TCE device used for the study is the new generation capsule with the ball lens optical configuration and a distal scan stepper motor, which provides 30µm (lateral) resolution and 40Hz imaging rate. The portable OCT imaging system is a custom in-house built swept source system and provides 7µm (axial) at a 100 kHz A-line rate with a center wavelength of ~1310 nm. To date, we have successfully enrolled 69 subjects at all sites (MGH: 33, Columbia University: 11, Kansas City VA: 10, Mayo Jacksonville: 8, Mayo Rochester: 7) and 59 have swallowed the capsule (85.5%). There have been no reported adverse events associated with TCE procedure. High-quality OCT images were reliably obtained from patients who swallowed the device, and BE tissues were identified by expert readers. Our initial experience with TCE in a multicenter study demonstrates that this technology is easy to use and efficient in multiple clinical settings. Completion of this longitudinal study is likely to provide new insights on the temporal progression of BE that may impact management strategies.