Surface vascular and epithelial anatomy of the vocal folds in
leukoplakia and cancer
Objective: To investigate the features of the superficial mucosa and
microvascular network of the vocal cords in patients with suspected
laryngeal cancer using contact endoscopy (CE). Design: A retrospective
review of patients with leukoplakia and cancer of vocal cords. Main
outcome measure: Fourty-two patients (mean age = 57.2 ±7.6 years), were
prospectively evaluated. Eighteen had malignant lesions and 24 had
leukoplakia, proven on histologic exam. Eight cancer patients and 8
patients with leukoplakia had bilateral lesions. Therefore, a total of
58 lesions (26 malignant and 32 non-malignant) was found.
Contact-endoscopic imaging findings were classified into five types (I
to V) based on the features of the mucosal intraepithelial capillary
loops. Results: The CE-based intraepithelial papillary capillary loop
classification was strongly correlated with the histological findings.
Smoking habits didn’t significantly differ between patients with
unilateral and bilateral lesions. Conclusions: CE imaging of the vocal
cord mucosal capillaries may be useful in the early detection of
laryngeal cancer and precancerous lesions.