Objectives: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a new technique for performing high-resolution, cross-sectional tomographic imaging in human tissue. OCT is somewhat analogous to ultrasound B mode imaging except that it uses light rather than acoustical waves. OCT has over 10 times the resolution of currently available clinical high-resolution imaging technologies. In this work, we investigate the capability of OCT to differentiate the architectural morphology of gastrointestinal tissue with the long-term objective of extending OCT to endoscopic based diagnostics.
Methods: Normal and diseased gastrointestinal tissues were taken postmortem and imaged using OCT. Images were compared with corresponding histology to confirm tissue identity and suggest the mechanisms that produce tissue contrast.
Results: Microstructure was delineated in different tissues, including the esophagus and colon, at 16 +/- 1 microns resolution, higher than any clinically available cross-sectional imaging technology. Differentiation of tissue layers, such as the mucosa, submucosa, and muscularis were achieved because of their different optical properties.
Conclusions: The ability of OCT to provide high-resolution in situ imaging of gastrointestinal microstructure, without the need for excisional biopsy, suggests the feasibility of using OCT as a powerful diagnostic imaging technology, which can be integrated with conventional endoscopy.