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Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography:  Ultra-high Speed, Ultra-high Resolution Ophthalmic Imaging

Teresa C. Chen, MD; Barry Cense, PhD; Mark C. Pierce, PhD; Nader Nassif, BS; B. Hyle Park, PhD; Seok H. Yun, PhD; Brian R. White, BS; Brett E. Bouma, PhD; Guillermo J. Tearney, MD, PhD; Johannes F. de Boer, PhD
Arch Ophthalmol. 2005;123(12):1715-1720. doi:10.1001/archopht.123.12.1715.
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Objective  To introduce a new ophthalmic optical coherence tomography technology that allows unprecedented simultaneous ultra-high speed and ultra-high resolution.

Methods  Using a superluminescent diode source, a clinically viable ultra-high speed, ultra-high resolution spectral domain optical coherence tomography system was developed.

Results  In vivo images of the retina, the optic nerve head, and retinal blood flow were obtained at an ultra-high speed of 34.1 microseconds (ms) per A-scan, which is 73 times faster than commercially available optical coherence tomography instruments. Single images (B-scans) consisting of 1000 A-scans were acquired in 34.1 ms, allowing video rate imaging at 29 frames per second with an axial resolution of 6 μm. Using a different source in a slightly slower configuration, single images consisting of 500 A-scans were acquired in 34 ms, allowing imaging at 29 frames per second at an axial resolution of 3.5 μm, which is 3 times better than commercially available optical coherence tomography instruments. The amount of energy directed into the eye in both cases, 600 μW, is less than that of the Stratus OCT3 and is safe for intrabeam viewing for up to 8 hours at the same retinal location.

Conclusion  Spectral domain optical coherence tomography technology enables ophthalmic imaging with unprecedented simultaneous ultra-high speed and ultra-high resolution.

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Figure 1.

Schematic of the spectral domain optical coherence tomography setup that was used for in vivo measurements. ASL indicates air-spaced lens; C, collimator; CCD, charge-coupled device; E, Eye; HP-SLD, high-power superluminescent diode; LSC, line scan camera; ND, neutral density filter; PC, polarization controllers; RSOD, delay line; SL, slitlamp; TG, transmission grating.

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Figure 2.

Spectral domain optical coherence tomographic image of the optic nerve and peripapillary region acquired in one twenty-ninth of a second consisting of 1000 A-scans. The image measures 6.1 × 1.5 mm. A, Horizontal linear scan through the neuroretinal rim and peripapillary retina. B, Linear scan through the center of the optic nerve head. IPRL indicates border between the inner and outer segments of the photoreceptors; RNFL, retinal nerve fiber layer; RPE, retinal pigment epithelium. The choroid and choriocapillaris are shown below. Vertical arrows point toward 4 large blood vessels (BV).

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Figure 3.

Layers are labeled as follows: RNFL, retinal nerve fiber layer; GCL, ganglion cell layer; IPL, inner plexiform layer; INL, inner nuclear layer; OPL, outer plexiform layer; ONL, outer nuclear layer; ELM, external limiting membrane; IPRL, interface between the inner and outer segments of the photoreceptor layer; RPE, retinal pigment epithelium; C, choriocapillaris and choroid. The blood vessels are circled with darker circles. Structures in the outer plexiform layer are circled with lighter circles. A highly reflective spot in the center of the fovea is marked with an R. A, Ultra-high resolution spectral domain optical coherence tomographic (SDOCT) image of the foveal region acquired in one twenty-ninth of a second consisting of 500 A-scans at a resolution of 3.5 μm. The image measures 3.1 × 0.61 mm. The image is expanded in the vertical direction by a factor of 2 to provide more detail. Two layers at the location of the RPE at the left and right are marked with arrows and an asterisk. B, Similar image taken with a standard SDOCT system employed with a superluminescent diode. The axial resolution of the image was 6 μm and the image measures 3.2 × 0.8 mm. The individual layers are less distinct, and structures in the outer plexiform layer are not seen. The differing scattering properties of the RPE are not clearly seen, as in the higher-resolution image.

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Figure 4.

Spectral domain optical Doppler tomography (SDODT) intensity image of the peripapillary retina (A) and corresponding Doppler image which shows bidirectional flow (B) acquired in one twenty-ninth of a second consisting of 1000 A-scans. Image size is 1.6 mm wide × 1.2 mm deep. In the Doppler image (B), flow is gray scale coded as a positive (white), negative (black), or no Doppler shift (gray). From left to right, the white circles indicate a small vein, an artery-vein pair showing bidirectional flow, and a large vein.

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Figure 5.

Three-dimensional reconstruction of the optic nerve head and the peripapillary retina, compiled from 400 individual frames mapping out a retinal area 6.2 × 5 mm, and 1.7 mm in depth. Total acquisition time was 14 seconds.

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