Optical Coherence Tomography: Emerging technology for Optical Biopsy

Recent advancements in technology have been a boon for the medical field. They have been used effectively for in-depth analysis of organs and for identifying the cause of disease.

In the optometry field, researchers from the Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland have developed a first-of-its-kind instrument, which provides an in-depth and detailed image of the entire eye. This instrument works on the principle of the wavelength of light, where the optical parameters of an electrically tunable lens (ETL) change when they come in contact with an electric current. The voltage of electric current in the instrument changes according to the part of the eye being examined. This innovative technology produces high-resolution images of every part of the eye, i.e. both the vitreous gel in the anterior chamber as well as the retina, producing much higher resolution images of the all segments of the eye than currently available technologies deliver. [1]

Optical coherence tomography i.e. OCT can achieve resolutions in the order of 1-10 μm at depths of 2- 3 mm, contrast provided by the index of refraction mismatch in tissue. The main component is the electrically tuneable lens which focuses the light to view the whole eye’s image. This lens is controlled by the electric current passing through it. [1]

“Diseases such as glaucoma affect both the front and back portions of the eye,” as mentioned by Ireneusz  Grulkowski, whose research team at Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland collaborated with the Spain team of Pablo Artal at Univesidad de Murcia, to develop this advanced eye imaging technology. [1]

In the study published in the journal Optica, researchers have proved that this new optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging system can effectively display the image of interface of vitreous gel with the retina and with the lens too in tremendous detail. This characteristic of the instrument will allow scientists to develop a greater understanding of the relation between vitreous gel and retina and explore the reasons for retinal detachment with aging.[2]

This technology will drastically reduce the examination time of doctors and the patients, making them more comfortable as it will reduce the need to go through multiple instruments and tests for eye checkups. This is an all in one instrument which also cuts the cost of having multiple instruments in the ophthalmology clinic. [2]

Importance of OCT

Several features of this OCT are an important technology for biomedical imaging.

  1. The OCT will measure axial resolutions of 1 to 15 µm, one to two orders of magnitude. These mentioned resolution measurements are for histopathology, allowing architectural morphology and some cellular features to be resolved.
  2. Imaging can be performed in situ. It also allows better exposure by reducing the sampling errors associated with excision biopsy of an eye.
  3. Imaging can be performed in real time. This instrument allows eye pathology to be observed on screen and stored on a high-resolution videotape enabling real-time diagnosis. Combining this information with surgery can enable immense surgical precision for medical procedures.
  4. OCT is essentially an optical fiber based instrument that can be interfaced with an extensive range of instruments including catheters, endoscopes, laparoscopes, and surgical probes. [3]

The researchers hope to optimize the scan area and develop higher processing tools to automatically measure the dimensions of the eye as well in the coming times.

 References:

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