Biomedical engineers at Duke University have devised a method for increasing the resolution of optical coherence tomography (OCT) down to a single micrometer in all directions, even in a living patient. The new technique, called optical coherence refraction tomography (OCRT), could improve medical images obtained in the multibillion-dollar OCT industry for medical fields ranging from cardiology to oncology.
The results appear in a paper published online on August 19 in the journal Nature Photonics. “An historic issue with OCT is that the depth resolution is typically several times better than the lateral resolution,” said Joseph Izatt, the Michael J. Fitzpatrick Professor of Engineering at Duke. “If the layers of imaged tissues happen to be horizontal, then they’re well defined in the scan. But to extend the full power of OCT for live imaging of tissues throughout the body, a method for overcoming the tradeoff between lateral resolution and depth of imaging was needed.”