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


Optical coherence tomography is an imaging technique that has been used with significant success in fields such as dermatology, ophthalmology and otolaryngology, but only recently has the technology advanced enough to allow for pulmonary applications.

Research in the pulmonary application of OCT has involved nearly every realm of the field, from obstructive central and peripheral airway disease and lung cancer to CTEPH and OSA. Some studies have evaluated pathology of human subjects and are awaiting larger studies for validation of promising results while other studies are only in the preliminary stages utilizing animal and/or ex vivo models. The cutting edge of pulmonary OCT research includes detailed analysis of airway elastic properties, imaging alveoli dynamics, needle-based OCT probes, and in vivo examination of active ciliary beating and interaction with mucus. Many optical bioengineering groups are developing advanced OCT systems that are producing OCT images with even higher resolution as low as 2.1 µm and many times faster scanning speeds. The future of endoscopic pulmonary imaging is likely to be a multimodality approach involving probe-based techniques such as OCT. Multimodality imaging involving OCT is an area of active research, and OCT holds significant potential for successful integration into other proven techniques such as EBUS-transbronchial needle aspiration, spectroscopy, ENB, CFM, high-frequency EBUS and potentially PAT. Although larger trials are needed before OCT can be brought into routine clinical practice, this optical imaging carries strong potential for improving both diagnostic and therapeutic options in the field of pulmonary medicine.


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