• rose bengal;
  • early detection;
  • oral squamous cell carcinoma;
  • epithelial dysplasia;
  • colorimetry


Early detection of oral precancerous and malignant lesions is still a diagnostic challenge for most of clinicians, and ideal adjuncts for detection of these lesions are currently unavailable. Our preliminary study has indicated that rose bengal (RB) staining might have the potency as a diagnostic aid; however, its clinical significance and reliability in hospital-based population are still not clear. In the present study, we investigated the efficacy of RB staining in detection of oral precancerous and malignant lesions. RB staining was conducted in 132 patients, and staining results were determined by a 4-graded shade guide, which had been quantitatively measured in the 1976 CIEL*a*b* space by instrumental colorimetry. Histological examination was performed in 128 of 132 patients after RB staining. The sensitivity and specificity to detect epithelial dysplasia (DP) and oral squamous cell carcinoma were 93.9 and 73.7%, respectively. The positive and negative likelihood ratios were 3.570 and 0.082, respectively. Moreover, RB staining seemed promising to detect DP in oral leukoplakia, lichen planus and leukokeratosis. In this study, 5 of 6 DP or oral squamous cell carcinoma were identified by RB staining before histological examination. In conclusion, RB staining may be a valuable diagnostic test in detection of oral precancerous and malignant lesions. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.