Recent Advances in Optical Coherence Tomography for the Diagnoses of Lung Disorders

Randy Hou; Tho Le; Septimiu D Murgu; Zhongping Chen; Matt Brenner


Expert Rev Resp Med. 2011;5(5):711-724. 

In This Article

Current Applications in OCT

Optimal computed tomography has been utilized successfully in clinical practice in non-pulmonary fields of medicine, such as dermatology and ophthalmology. These fields have pioneered the use of OCT because the tissue in question is more easily accessible. In dermatology, OCT has been used to distinguish inflammatory and blistering skin conditions, and skin tumors with resolution of approximately 10 µm. With improving technology, resolution levels down to 1 µm may allow us to analyze tissue on the cellular level.[11] OCT has been utilized in the field of ophthalmology to image multiple structures of the eye including the cornea, macula and retina and diagnose a variety of ophthalmologic disorders, and is rapidly becoming standard clinical practice in retinal ophthalmology.[12–14] As OCT technology improves and systems are miniaturized, other fields of medicine follow, including otolaryngology, gastroenterology and cardiology. OCT has been utilized to evaluate laryngeal tumors, diagnose Barrett's esophagus in vivo, and distinguish characteristics of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque.[15–17]

Applying OCT to the field of pulmonary medicine requires overcoming several challenges. The tracheobronchial tree is small, branching and convoluted, and only accessible in large part via flexible bronchoscopy. Therefore, the OCT probe must be small enough to be passed through the working channel of a standard bronchoscope, which ranges from 1.2 to 2.8 mm in diameter. In addition, this imaging technology must be able to overcome the motion artifact that will invariably be present secondary to cardiac pulsations and respiratory movements.


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