In vivo assessment of human burn scars through automated quantification of vascularity using optical coherence tomography

J Biomed Opt. 2013 Jun;18(6):061213. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.18.6.061213.


In scars arising from burns, objective assessment of vascularity is important in the early identification of pathological scarring, and in the assessment of progression and treatment response. We demonstrate the first clinical assessment and automated quantification of vascularity in cutaneous burn scars of human patients in vivo that uses optical coherence tomography (OCT). Scar microvasculature was delineated in three-dimensional OCT images using speckle decorrelation. The diameter and area density of blood vessels were automatically quantified. A substantial increase was observed in the measured density of vasculature in hypertrophic scar tissues (38%) when compared against normal, unscarred skin (22%). A proliferation of larger vessels (diameter≥100 μm) was revealed in hypertrophic scarring, which was absent from normal scars and normal skin over the investigated physical depth range of 600 μm. This study establishes the feasibility of this methodology as a means of clinical monitoring of scar progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burns / pathology*
  • Cicatrix, Hypertrophic / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Male
  • Microvessels / chemistry*
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • Skin / chemistry
  • Skin / pathology
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods*