Institute of Stomatology, Riga Stradins University

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Novelty in the Oral Pathology Clinic –the VELscope device


VELscope is a manual, autofluorescence device which indicates changes in normal fluorescence that are linked to morphologic and biochemical changes in the tissues. The pathologically changed tissues are visualized in a dark colour, whereas the normal ones are green. VELscope was invented by P. Whitehead and it was approved for use in 2007 in Canada. The tissues of the oral mucosa with pathological metabolic or structural changes have different absorption and contour reflection characteristics when they are subjected to different types of light or energy. Therefore it can be discovered early whether there are any mitotic changes in the mucous membrane epithelium or biochemical and/or morphologic cell changes in the tissues.

The device can be used for screening of the pathologically changed tissues of the oral mucosa in the following cases:

  1. Searching for and discovering pre-cancer changes in the mucous membrane with the formation of risk groups and further dynamic observation and treatment.
  2. Diagnostics of “hidden” preliminary stages of cancer.
  3. Determining the localisation of the tumour spreading process.
  4. Specifying the tumour borders during surgical excision.
  5. Determining the efficiency of treatment.

When using fluorescence devices, changes in the epithelium structure and subepithelial stroma become visible due to the effects of light. The reduced fluorescence of malignant tumours in comparison to the unchanged surrounding tissues is based on:

  • number of fluorochromes decreasing in the tumour tissues;
  • changes in the tumour tissue optical peculiarities;
  • changes of the macromolecular composition of the extracellular matrix;
  • thickening of the epithelial layer.

Advantages of the VELscopse system:

  • non-invasive, easy to use;
  • there is no need for a large amount of reagents/there are no periodically repeating expenses;
  • the evaluation of the current situation can be obtained;
  • high sensitivity for all oral mucosa formations;
  • does not take up a lot of time;
  • uses spectroscopic principles in order to grasp the spectrum of the fluorescence spread from larger tissue sample regions than it is possible with a narrow spectrum scope;
  • provides two dimension information that allows determining the specific characteristics of the formations (uniformity).

Disadvantages of the VELscope system:

  • a dark room is required.