Evaluation of artifacts associated with macular spectral-domain optical coherence tomography

Ophthalmology. 2010 Jun;117(6):1177-1189.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2009.10.029. Epub 2010 Feb 19.


Purpose: To characterize the types and frequencies of image artifacts associated with macular scanning using 2 common spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD OCT) instruments and to evaluate the impact of artifacts on foveal thickness measurements.

Design: Retrospective, observational chart review.

Participants: For the Cirrus HD-OCT (Carl Zeiss Meditec, Dublin, CA), scans of 98 eyes from 58 patients were included in the study. For the Spectralis HRA+OCT (Heidelberg Engineering, Heidelberg, Germany), scans of 88 eyes from 54 patients were included.

Methods: Macular volume scans of healthy and diseased eyes were evaluated systematically for image artifacts within each scan overall and within the center 1-mm area. The frequency of each artifact type was compared for scans stratified by diagnosis category. Artifacts in the center 1-mm area were graded for severity and were corrected manually using each instrument's software. Artifacts that resulted in errors of more than 50 microm or more than 10% of retinal thickness or that caused a misdiagnosis of macular edema or retinal thinning were defined as clinically significant and were analyzed further.

Main outcome measures: Overall frequency of image artifacts by artifact type, relative frequency of artifacts in scans stratified by posterior segment disease diagnosis, and retinal thickness measurements of the center 1-mm subfield before and after artifact corrections.

Results: For Cirrus, 84.7% of scans had artifacts and 32.7% had at least 1 artifact in the center 1-mm area of the scan. For Spectralis, 90.9% of scans had at least 1 artifact, and 37.5% had at least 1 artifact in the center 1-mm area. Certain artifact types were observed more frequently with specific disease states. Clinically significant artifacts involving the center 1-mm area were seen in 5.1% of Cirrus and 8.0% of Spectralis scans.

Conclusions: Image artifacts in SD OCT volume scanning are common and frequently involve segmentation errors. Artifacts are relatively less common in the center 1-mm area of scans, but may affect retinal thickness measurements in a clinically significant manner. Careful review of scans for artifacts is important when using SD OCT images and retinal thickness measurements in patient care or clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Artifacts*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retina / pathology*
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence*
  • Young Adult