Understanding the nature and mechanism of congenital defects of the different organ systems in humans has heavily relied on the analysis of the corresponding mutant phenotypes in rodent models. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) has recently emerged as a powerful tool to study early embryonic development. This non-invasive optical methodology does not require labeling and allows visualization of embryonic tissues with single cell resolution. Here, we will discuss how OCT can be applied for structural imaging of early mouse and rat embryos in static culture, cardiodynamic and blood flow analysis, and in utero embryonic imaging at later stages of gestation, demonstrating how OCT can be used to assess structural and functional birth defects in mammalian models.
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