Background and Aim: Needle-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (nCLE) allows for real-time optical biopsies during endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (EUS-FNA). Little is known about nCLE imaging of gastrointestinal subepithelial lesions (GI-SEL); therefore, we determined its feasibility. Methods: We carried out EUS, nCLE, and finally FNA in 25 patients with GI-SEL between November 2015 and December 2018. We retrospectively compared nCLE findings with pathological findings of EUS-FNA or surgical specimens. For concordance analysis, two endoscopists independently validated representative nCLE images 5 months or more after examinations. Results: Adequate sample acquisition rate of EUS-FNA was 67% per needle pass and 96% per patient. EUS-FNA was diagnostic in 80% (20/25), suspicious in 4% (1/25), and nondiagnostic in 16% (4/25). nCLE image acquisition rate was 100% and its concordance rate with final pathology was 88% (22/25), which was not significantly different from diagnostic and suspicious EUS-FNA. nCLE could differentiate GI stromal tumors (GISTs) from leiomyoma, in that GISTs were characterized by contrast-enhanced densely populated spindle cell tumors with unenhanced rod-shaped nuclei in 93% of 14 patients, whereas leiomyomas were characterized by narrower spindle cell tumors with fewer and smaller unenhanced nuclei in 100% of three patients. In rectal metastasis from lung adenocarcinoma, some pleomorphic dark nests were observed. At concordance analysis between the two endoscopists’ validation results, κ value was 0.560 (P < 0.001), indicating moderate agreement. There were no adverse events associated with nCLE and EUS-FNA. Conclusion: Needle-based confocal laser endomicroscopy can be safe and useful for on-site detection of abnormalities of GI-SEL (UMIN 000013857).
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