Immersive educational curriculum on intracoronary optical coherence tomography image analysis among naïve readers

BMC Med Educ. 2022 Oct 12;22(1):719. doi: 10.1186/s12909-022-03704-0.


Background: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an intravascular imaging modality for analysing coronary vessels. Image interpretation remains an obstacle for novice readers due to technical artefacts and uncertainty in tissue characterization. Despite an expanding clinical and research role for OCT, few training efforts exist, and there is an absence of a national standardized educational curriculum. We sought to determine whether an interactive, feedback-based OCT curriculum improved image interpretation among naive readers.

Methods: Naive OCT readers completed both a Standard curriculum, comprised of self-directed didactics and consensus statements, and an Augmented curriculum, which provided real-time digital feedback of feature identification and measurements. Modules were separated by a minimum one-week washout period. After each module, and blinded to the exam answers, subjects completed an identical expert-designed 413-item exam to assess technical knowledge and ability to identify and measure vessel features. Performances were compared using Exact Wilcoxon signed-rank tests.

Results: Among the 7 included subjects were 3 medical students, 3 internal medicine residents, and 1 cardiovascular medicine fellow with no prior OCT experience. The technical knowledge score (maximum 13) was significantly higher with the Augmented compared with the Standard curriculum (median 11 vs. 7, p = 0.03). After undergoing the Augmented curriculum, all 7 subjects were able to identify features of plaque rupture (Standard curriculum: 5/7 subjects, p = 0.5) and macrophages (Standard curriculum: 6/7 subjects, p = 0.99), differentiate the components between red and white thrombus (Standard curriculum: 6/7 subjects, p = 0.99), and characterize lipid plaque by attenuation, signal, homogeneity, and borders (Standard curriculum: 5/7 subjects, p = 0.5). Performances on the remaining exam portions did not differ between curricula.

Conclusions: The need for standardized, effective training in OCT image interpretation is increasingly essential as the intravascular imaging modality becomes widely utilized among interventional cardiologists and trainees. A novel interactive OCT curriculum enhanced naive readers' technical knowledge and may supplement traditional self-learning in refining analytic skills.

Keywords: Curriculum; Education; Image interpretation; Optical coherence tomography; Training.

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Artery Disease*
  • Curriculum
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence* / methods


  • Lipids