Diagnostic value of autofluorescence bronchoscopy in lung cancer
The role of autofluorescence bronchoscopy (AFB) was primarily investigated in regard to the detection of precancerous lesions of bronchial mucosa. Most of the results confirmed higher sensitivity for the detection of precancerous bronchial lesions, when compared to white light bronchoscopy (WLB) alone. However, it is commonly known that the specificity of AFB remains low. Our findings agree in terms of the detection of premalignant bronchial lesions and early lung cancer, but regarding the detection of synchronous lesions or in the evaluation of lung cancer extension, the specificity of AFB is significantly higher. There is still an ongoing debate in the scientific community whether or not autofluorescence should be used as a screening tool for lung cancer. Results of the majority of published series did not support the general use of AFB as a screening tool for lung cancer; however, these results suggest its use in groups of patients with a high risk of lung cancer. Despite this, some authors still do not recommend its use even in high-risk cases. In recent years, the indications for AFB have been widening and this tool may find its place in routine bronchoscopy. With new indications for AFB, such as the evaluation of tumor extension or follow up after surgical resection, bronchoscopists may make use of this tool more often. A sharp learning curve and a clear distinction between healthy and pathologically altered mucosa make this technology acceptable for inexperienced bronchoscopists. We also investigate new hardware and software improvements in AFB. The addition of backscattered light analysis, ultraviolet spectra, fluorescence-reflectance or dual digital systems could improve the diagnostic yield of this technology.