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Confocal endomicroscopy reveals several microscopic structures and cell types normally seen in conventional histology.
This can be done during the course of an otherwise normal endoscopic procedure.
Endomicroscopy is made possible by combining laser, fibre optic and computer technologies. The imaging end of the confocal microscope is highly miniaturized and enables access to a variety of body cavities and tissues for imaging.
Confocal microscopes enable microscopic optical sectioning of tissue in vivo, so that layers of cells are clearly imaged, a single layer at a time. Any light from within the tissue which is outside the particular plane of focus is optically rejected.
In the case of the flexible endomicroscope, imaging depth is controlled with the click of a button on the endoscope control body. Pressing the button causes internal movement of the lenses within the microscope tip. All of the movement occurs behind the optical window, and no additional pressure is exerted upon the gastrointestinal mucosa. Movement of the lenses behind the optical window causes the laser light to be focused to a different point or "focal plane" within the tissue to achieve imaging at different depths. To change the direction of movement, the button on the endoscope control body is simply double clicked.