Standardization and Optimization of Intraoperative Molecular Imaging for Identifying Primary Pulmonary Adenocarcinomas

Jarrod D. Predina, Olugbenga Okusanya, Andrew D. Newton, Philip Low, Sunil Singhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: Intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) is an emerging technology used to locate pulmonary adenocarcinomas and identify positive margins during surgery. Background noise and tissue autofluorescence have been major obstacles. The goal of this study is to optimize the image quality of folate receptor alpha (FRα) targeted IMI for pulmonary adenocarcinomas by modifying emission data. Procedures: A total of 15 lung cancer patients were enrolled in a pilot study. In the first cohort, FRα upregulation within pulmonary adenocarcinoma tumors was confirmed by analyzing specimens from five pulmonary adenocarcinoma patients with flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Next, in a cohort of five additional patients, autofluorescence of intrathoracic structures and tissues was quantified. Lastly, five patients with tumors at various depths from the pleural surface were enrolled and received the FRα-targeted optical contrast agent, EC17. In this final cohort, resected pulmonary adenocarcinomas were imaged at a wide range of fluorescence exposure times (0 to 200 ms), various laser powers, and with unique filter configurations. Tumor-to-noise ratio (TNR) for images was generated using region of interest software. Results: Pulmonary adenocarcinomas highly express FRα. Significant autofluorescence from native thoracic tissues was found with the highest fluorescent signals at the bronchial stump (547 ± 98, range 423–699), the pulmonary artery (267 ± 64, range 200–374), and cortical bone (266 ± 17, range 243–287). High levels of autofluorescence were appreciated after systemic administration of EC17; however, TNR was improved by altering exposure settings at the time of the imaging. Optimal fluorescent exposure time occurs at 40 ms (25 frames/s). Conclusions: Exposure properties can be manipulated to maximize TNR thus allowing for successful intraoperative detection of pulmonary adenocarcinomas during surgery. Optimization of the conditions for intraoperative molecular imaging sets the stage for future clinical trials utilizing targeted IMI techniques which can aid the surgeon at the time of cancer resection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Imaging and Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • FRα
  • Intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI)
  • Pulmonary adenocarcinoma
  • Tumor-to-noise ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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