The U.S. FDA has cleared narrow band imaging (NBI) for bladder cancer, making possible enhanced visualization of tissues for biopsies and tumor margin identification.

Compared with white light, NBI visualized non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer lesions in 17% more patients and illuminated 24% more tumors, according to FDA-reviewed research. It also revealed 28% additional carcinoma in situ (CIS). Traditional white light misses small papillary tumors or CIS 10%–20% of the time. 

NBI, a light technology created by Olympus, is available in both flexible and rigid endoscopes. It releases blue and green light that is strongly absorbed by the blood; the blue light highlights shallow capillaries and the green light highlights deeper veins. NBI provides this contrast without the use of dyes or drugs. There are no contraindications.

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NBI can be used both in-office for diagnostic cystoscopy and in the operating room for resection.

If it leads to earlier detection of bladder cancer, NBI could potentially improve patient outcomes and reduce treatment costs. The disease is the most expensive to treat among all cancers.

In addition to urology, NBI technology has clinical applications for gastroenterology, pulmonology and rhinolaryngology. Other uses are also being explored.


Olympus news release, December 15, 2014.