Colorectal carcinoma is the second most common malignancy in the United States after skin cancer. However, early detection of colorectal carcinoma is far more difficult than it is in the case of skin cancer. GRI's primary focus is on the development of an endoscopic imaging device to help improve this situation. The sensor is a high-frequency (100 MHz), broadband ultrasound microsystem designed to image cellular structure/tissue along the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract. The radial resolution of the imager is ~9 mm. The primary images are acquired in a conical volume that extends ~1 mm to 3 mm in depth. The region of depth coverage can be split into several sample intervals to increase the range of depths. Within the observed volume, cells and tissue structure are imaged layer-by-layer, and an incisionless biopsy is effectively performed. The size of the sample volume is determined primarily by current read-out integrated circuit technology; with increasing time this volume will increase. The current system design is more than adequate for several key endoscopic functions. These include: 1) the imaging of pre-cancerous dysplastic mucosa, polyps, and adenomas, 2) real-time grading of dysplasia, 3) immediate viewing of cellular structure in tumors (e.g., squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and benign growths), 4) guidance for directing fine-needle aspiration biopsies to regions that pose the greatest threat, 5) assistance in the detection and analysis of flat adenomas (often difficult to identify visually), and 6) the development of a patient friendly, pre-cancer diagnostic for severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (Barrett's esophagus).
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