Handheld vital microscopy for the identification of microcirculatory alterations in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and cervical cancer

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Background: Ninety percent of cervical cancer (CC) diagnoses and deaths occur in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Especially in these countries, where human and material resources are limited, there is a need for real-time screening methods that enable immediate treatment decisions (i.e., ‘see and treat’). Objective: To evaluate whether handheld vital microscopy (HVM) enables real-time detection of microvascular alterations associated with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and CC. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in an oncologic hospital and outpatient clinic, and included ten healthy controls, ten women with CIN, and ten women with CC. The microvasculature was assessed in four quadrants of the uterine cervix using HVM. The primary outcome was the presence of abnormal angioarchitecture (AA). Secondary outcomes included capillary loop density (CD), total vessel density (TVD), functional capillary density (FCD), and the proportion of perfused vessels (PPV). Results: 198 image sequences of the cervical microvasculature were recorded. Compared to healthy controls, significantly more abnormal image sequences were observed in women with high-grade CIN (11 % vs. 44 %, P < 0.001) and women with CC (11 % vs. 69 %, P < 0.001). TVD, FCD, and PPV were lower in women with CIN and CC. Conclusions: HVM enables easy, real-time, non-invasive assessment of cervical lesions through the detection of microvascular alterations. Thereby, HVM potentially provides an opportunity for point-of-care screening, which may enable immediate treatment decisions (see and treat) and reduce the number of unnecessary surgical interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104608
Pages (from-to)104608
JournalMicrovascular Research
Early online date9 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Angioarchitecture
  • Cervix uteri
  • Handheld vital microscopy
  • Incident dark field imaging
  • Microvessels
  • Uterine cervical dysplasia
  • Uterine cervical neoplasms

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