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Chapter 7:
Real-Time Imaging of Microstructure and Function Using Optical Coherence Tomography
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a noninvasive imaging modality that provides high-resolution, depth-resolved imaging of tissue microstructure in real time. Images are generated by detecting back-reflected light, where contrast is generated by optical index changes in the sample. By measuring singly backscattered light as a function of depth, OCT fills a valuable niche in the imaging of tissue microstructure, providing subsurface imaging to depths of 1 to 3 mm with high spatial resolution in three dimensions and high sensitivity in vivo with no contact needed between the probe and the tissue. With high imaging speeds, high resolution, optical fiber-based implementations, and functional extensions for measuring tissue birefringence and flow, OCT has made a significant impact in clinical and biomedical applications, including ophthalmology, cardiology, and oncology. In these applications OCT provides the physician with near-histological resolution imaging of subsurface tissue morphology, potentially aiding in monitoring treatment, biopsy site selection, or even approaching the goal of “optical biopsy.” With these specifications, OCT is quickly being translated into commercial products readily available to the clinical community, and in some cases, they are becoming the standard of care.
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