Principles of Operation and Technology

Measuring Microstructural information

Tomographic Imaging OCT instrumentation


Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a new medical diagnostic imaging technology which can perform micron resolution cross-sectional or tomographic imaging in biological tissues [1-4]. The operation of OCT is analogous to ultrasound B-mode imaging or radar except that light is used rather than acoustic or radio waves. OCT is especially suited for diagnostic applications in ophthalmology because of the ease of optical access to the anterior and posterior eye.

Imaging techniques which can provide tomographic or cross-sectional images of intraocular structures can yield powerful diagnostic information which is complementary to conventional fundus photography and fluorescein angiography. Techniques such as X-ray computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging have been applied for diagnostic imaging in ophthalmology [5-7]. However, these approaches have not been widely used in routine diagnostic applications in ophthalmology because of their limited resolution and preclusive cost and complexity.

This chapter presents an overview of the principles of operation and the technology of OCT. This information, while not directly relevant for clinical diagnosis, will provide the interested reader with a knowledge of how OCT functions and how OC V imaging compares to other diagnostic imaging such as ultrasound. In addition, we will describe the technology which governs OCT and how OCT instruments function. A more detailed discussion of the physical principies of OCT is included in the Appendix. This information is useful for the researcher who wishes to understand the factors which govern OCT imaging resolution and performance-

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