Noninvasive imaging of living human skin with dual-wavelength optical coherence tomography in two and three dimensions

J Biomed Opt. 1998 Oct;3(4):446-55. doi: 10.1117/1.429897.


We demonstrate the potential of optical coherence-domain tomography (OCT) for noninvasive imaging of living skin simultaneously at two wavelengths in the near infrared range (830 and 1285 nm). The technical details of a prototype monomode fiber-optic coherence tomographic scanner providing rapid two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) imaging of biological tissues are described. The effects of both instrumentation parameters and the dynamic characteristics of living tissue on image contrast and resolution and on speckle reduction are discussed. The impact of imaging speed on OCT image quality is studied by a comparison between a single scan and the corresponding frame-averaged OCT images, with the latter resulting in decreased speckle noise as well as loss of some subtle structures. Both theoretical predictions and experimental results in human skin imaging show that longer wavelength can minimize the influence of multiple scattering on image contrast and resolution and thus increase the effective penetration depth of OCT imaging to about 2 mm. Some high-resolution 2D and 3D images of microscopic anatomic structures of living human skin are presented and analyzed, illustrating the unique capability of OCT for in depth, noninvasive visualization of living skin microscopic morphology in vivo. © 1998 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.