Conventional imaging modalities like CT or ultrasonography have a spatial resolution of 70-1000 rim. OCT is a new method by which light of a certain wavelength is introduced into a fiberglass optic to measure tissue structures of up to 2.5 mm depth with a spatial resolution of up to 10-15 μm. We utilized the Tomograph Sirius 713, developed at the Medical Laser Centre in cooperation with 4-Optics AG, Lubeck, Germany. This apparatus uses a special Super-
Luminescence-Diode (SLD) that produces light within the near infrared wavelength, with a central wavelength of 1300 nm. The coherence length is reduced to 15 μm. The light is introduced into a fiberglass optic which is several meters long and is easy to handle. To measure the depth of invasion and position of urothelial bladder tumors, the fiberglass optic is attached to a regular endoscope (Wolf, Knittlingen, Germany) via an OCT adapter. That way, in parallel to the regular endoscopic view of the bladder mucosa with or without pathologic findings, an OCT picture of the superficial as well as the deeper muscle layers is visible online. OCT was used to obtain 945 images from the bladder in vivo und ex vivo of 65 patients. OCT of normal bladder mucosa allows to image a cross section of up to 2.5 mm. It is possible to distinguish transitional epithelium, lamina propria, smooth muscles and capillaries. In cystitis, the thickness of the mucosa is constant, but the distinction between the different layers is blurred. In squamous metaplasia there is thickening of the epithelial layer, with preservation of lamination of the lower layers. In transitional cell carcinoma there is a complete loss of the regular layered structure. It is easily possible to distinguish the border between tumour and normal bladder tissue. OCT is a new high-resolution imaging procedure. It has the potential to improve the diagnostics of the urothelium and its lesions. In conjunction with a highly sensitive orientating procedure like fluorescence-cystoscopy, intraoperative staging of these changes could be possible in the future.