Journal of Biomedical Optics • Open AccessComparative study of protoporphyrin IX fluorescence image enhancement methods to improve an optical imaging system for oral cancer detection
Optoelectronics techniques to induce protoporphyrin IX fluorescence with topically applied 5-aminolevulinic acid on the oral mucosa have been developed to noninvasively detect oral cancer. Fluorescence imaging enables wide-area screening for oral premalignancy, but the lack of an adequate fluorescence enhancement method restricts the clinical imaging application of these techniques. This study aimed to develop a reliable fluorescence enhancement method to improve PpIX fluorescence imaging systems for oral cancer detection. Three contrast features, red-green-blue reflectance difference, R/B ratio, and R/G ratio, were developed first based on the optical properties of the fluorescence images. A comparative study was then carried out with one negative control and four biopsy confirmed clinical cases to validate the optimal image processing method for the detection of the distribution of malignancy. The results showed the superiority of the R/G ratio in terms of yielding a better contrast between normal and neoplastic tissue, and this method was less prone to errors in detection. Quantitative comparison with the clinical diagnoses in the four neoplastic cases showed that the regions of premalignancy obtained using the proposed method accorded with the expert's determination, suggesting the potential clinical application of this method for the detection of oral cancer.