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Photonics & Lasers in Medicine

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A review of optical coherence tomography in breast cancer

Optische Kohärenztomographie bei Brustkrebs – Ein Review

Loretta Scolaro
  • Corresponding author
  • Optical+Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth WA 6009, Australia
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Robert A. McLaughlin
  • Optical+Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth WA 6009, Australia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Brendan F. Kennedy
  • Optical+Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth WA 6009, Australia
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/ Christobel M. Saunders
  • School of Surgery, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth WA 6009, Australia
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/ David D. Sampson
  • Centre for Microscopy, Characterization and Analysis, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth WA 6009, Australia
  • Optical+Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley WA 6009, Australia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2014-06-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/plm-2014-0013


Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a medical imaging modality that opens up new opportunities for imaging in breast cancer. It provides two- and three-dimensional micro-scale images of tissue structure from bulk tissue, in vivo or freshly excised without labeling or staining, is capable of video-rate acquisition speeds, and is compatible with compact imaging probes. In this paper, the authors briefly describe OCT technology and describe in detail its capabilities for imaging breast cancer. Potential applications identified in current research are discussed, particularly in the assessment of excised breast tumors. It is concluded that OCT shows promise for margin assessment and biopsy guidance but that much more research and validation is required to confirm its level of utility.


Die optische Kohärenztomographie (optical coherence tomography, OCT) ist ein medizinisches Bildgebungsverfahren, das neue Möglichkeiten für die Bildgebung bei Brustkrebs eröffnet. Es liefert zwei- und dreidimensionale Bilder im Mikrometerbereich; erlaubt die Darstellung von Gewebestrukturen großer Gewebevolumen, in vivo oder frisch exzidiert, ohne Markierung oder Färbung; arbeitet fast mit Videoaufnahmegeschwindigkeit und ist mit kompakten Imaging-Sonden kompatibel. Im vorliegenden Übersichtsartikel wird die OCT-Technologie kurz vorgestellt und deren Potential zur Bildgebung von Brustkrebs dargestellt. Mögliche Anwendungen, die derzeit Gegenstand aktueller Forschung sind, werden identifiziert und diskutiert, insbesondere ihr Einsatz zur Beurteilung exzidierter Brusttumoren. Die Autoren kommen zu dem Schluss, dass die OCT sich vielversprechend zeigt für die Tumorrandbestimmung und Biopsie-Führung, aber noch weitere Forschungsarbeit für die Validierung erforderlich ist, um den Grad des Nutzens zu bestätigen.

Keywords: optical imaging; breast cancer; clinical imaging; margin assessment; lymph nodes; needle biopsy

Schlüsselwörter: optische Bildgebung; Brustkrebs; klinische Bildgebung; Tumorrandbestimmung; Lymphknoten; Nadelbiopsie


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About the article

Corresponding author: Loretta Scolaro, Optical+Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth WA 6009, Australia, e-mail:

Received: 2014-04-29

Revised: 2014-05-21

Accepted: 2014-05-26

Published Online: 2014-06-18

Published in Print: 2014-08-01

Citation Information: Photonics & Lasers in Medicine, Volume 3, Issue 3, Pages 225–240, ISSN (Online) 2193-0643, ISSN (Print) 2193-0635, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/plm-2014-0013.

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