4 years ago

Narrow-band imaging (NBI) for improving the assessment of vocal fold leukoplakia and overcoming the umbrella effect

K. Piersiala, M. Tokarski, J. Jackowska, H. Klimza, M. Wierzbicka

by H. Klimza, J. Jackowska, M. Tokarski, K. Piersiala, M. Wierzbicka


It is crucial to find a balance between functional and oncological outcome when choosing an adequate method for the management of vocal fold leukoplakia. Therefore, a detailed examination is a milestone in the decision-making process.


To examine whether narrow-band imaging (NBI) can be helpful in vocal fold assessment in the case of leukoplakia and how to overcome the “umbrella effect”- understood as the submucosal vascular pattern hidden under the plaque.

Material and methods

Prospective cohort of 41 consecutive patients. Inclusion criteria: vocal fold leukoplakia, no previous procedures (surgery, radiotherapy), and preoperative endoscopy with an optical filter for NBI. Two groups: “suspicious” and “normal”, according to the submucosal microvascular pattern of peripheral regions of the mucosa surrounding the plaque, were distinguished. Patients were qualified for a full-thickness or partial-thickness biopsy, respectively. Criteria defining suspected characters were well-demarcated brownish areas with scattered brown spots corresponding to type IV, Va, Vb, and Vc NI classifications.


In 22/41 (53.7%) patients with “suspected” microvascular pattern, full-thickness biopsy was performed. Moderate and severe dysplasia was revealed in 15 type IV and 7 type Va NI patients. In 19/41 (46.3%) patients with proper NBI vessel pattern treated by partial-thickness biopsy, hyperkeratosis was diagnosed. There was a strong correlation between the NBI pattern and final histology: Chi2 (2) = 41.0 (p = 0.0000).


The results demonstrate that NBI endoscopic assessment of the submucosal microvascular pattern of mucosa surrounding the plaque can be an effective method to categorise the risk in vocal fold leukoplakia prior to treatment.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0180590

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