NBI in Gastroenterology

A New Wave of Diagnostic Possibilities

How NBI Works

Olympus Narrow Band Imaging (NBI) is an optical technology available for a variety of medical disciplines which helps to visualise the minutest vascular and mucosal patterns. NBI uses only wavelengths absorbed by haemoglobin for maximum contrast. A number of studies highlight the clinical value of NBI, especially with regard to the detection of cancer and characterisation of suspicious mucosal areas. Compared to white-light endoscopy, the images of capillaries are less blurred and the probability of missing a lesion is reduced.

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Experience the Power of Accurate Diagnosis

NBI is a powerful and proven optical technology that allows for a reliable optical diagnosis of all major indications in the gastrointestinal tract.1-8

Efficient lesion management strategies that are empowered by NBI include:

  • Targeted biopsies in the upper gastrointestinal tract.2, 5
  • Easier decision-making for suitable endoscopic resection techniques.4, 5
  • Potentially avoiding histological assessment of low-risk lesions
    (e.g. diminutive rectosigmoid polyps under the resect and discard paradigm).6-8

Experience the power of NBI with the EVIS X1, our most advanced endoscopy system.


This conclusion arises from an international, randomised, crossover trial comparing HD-WLE and NBI with 123 patients by Sharma et al. , published in Gut. 2013, 62 (1), pp. 15–21.

The aim of the study was to compare high-definition white-light endoscopy (HD-WLE) applying the Seattle protocol and NBI targeted biopsy for detection of IM and neoplastic tissue in Barrett’s Oesophagus. The authors examined the differences of HD-WLE and NBI biopsies with respect to (1) the proportion of patients with intestinal metaplasia and neoplasia; (2) the proportion of neoplastic area; and (3) the number of overall biopsies performed.

The results: For detection of IM, HD-WLE and NBI each yielded detection rates of 92%. While HD-WLE required a mean of 7.6 biopsies per patient, NBI only required 3.6 biopsies. For detection of dysplasia, the diagnostic yield of HD-WLE and NBI were equivalent. However, NBI required fewer biopsies than HD-WLE in patients with short-segment BO (3.0 vs. 3.9) and patients with long-segment BO (4.1 vs. 10.9).

Thus, NBI may improve the efficiency of Barrett’s Oesophagus endoscopic screening and surveillance and even reduce pathology costs, thanks to fewer biopsies being taken.

This result was found by Manabu Muto et al.in a randomised controlled clinical study with 360 patients, comparing the real-time detection rate of superficial SCC and HNSCC with WLE and NBI in a back-to-back fashion. See details in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2010, 28 (9), pp. 1566–1572.

Oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world with mostly a poor prognosis. This is mainly due to the fact that white-light endoscopy has a poor detection rate of early-stage cancers. Therefore, oesophageal SCC and head & neck SCC (HNSCC) are often detected at a late stage. The aim of the study was to verify if NBI could improve the detection rates for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck region as well as the oesophagus.

The results were promising. While primary NBI detected all (100%) of the superficial cancers in the H&N region, primary WLE detected only 8.0% (Table 1). In the oesophagus, primary NBI detected 97% of the lesions while primary WLE reached only 55%. The detection rate of secondary NBI after primary WLE significantly increased in both the H&N region (8.0% vs. 77%) and oesophagus (55% vs. 95%). In contrast, if NBI was followed by secondary WLE, the detection rate declined. Fifty-seven percent of superficial cancers in the H&N region and 23% in the oesophagus even were detected only by NBI. There was only one lesion that was detected by WLE but was missed by secondary NBI.

In conclusion, NBI has a significantly higher detection rate for SCC than white-light endoscopy and may become the standard examination for the early detection of superficial cancer in the H&N region and the oesophagus.


A meta-analysis byMcGill et al.published in Gut 2013; 62 : 1704–1713 analysed 28 studies on the real-time diagnostic performance of NBI colonoscopy. They found that real-time endoscopic diagnosis of colorectal polyps with NBI is highly accurate, with the area under the summary receiver operator curve exceeding >0.90. High-confidence predictions provide >90% sensitivity and NPV for adenomateous histology. Furthermore, surveillance interval predictions based upon the optical diagnosis were in agreement with pathology in more than 90% of patients.

In conclusion, the adaption of NBI optical diagnosis of colorectal polyps, particularly in high-confidence predictions, is promising for making colonoscopy more cost effective and efficient by potentially avoiding the need for pathological examination.

Hewett et al.Hewett et al. developed a simple tool to assess the histology of colorectal polyps: the NBI International Colorectal Endoscopic (NICE) Classification. Their randomised controlled multi-center study, published in Gastroenterology. 2012, 143 (3), pp. 599–607, does not only provide a simple tool for NBI-supported real-time assessment of colorectal polyps. It also shows that applying this classification scheme is accurate enough to consider the resect-and-discard policy which is a promising practice to save pathology costs.

The criteria of the NICE classification were rated both with experts and fellows followed by an overall prediction of histology. Surface pattern reached the highest values in accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and negative predictive value. When combining the criteria, the presence of adenomateous features achieved an overall accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of 92%, 92% and 95% respectively. The negative predictive value for adenomateous histology was 92%. These values further increased when low-confidence predictions were excluded.

In conclusion, if used with high-definition endoscopy, the NICE classification is suitable to differentiate between hyperplastic and adenomatous polyps. Fulfilling the minimum performance benchmarks for assessing the histology of diminutive colorectal polyps, it may substantially contribute to reduce the cost of colonoscopy.