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Advantages and Disadvantages of optical coherence tomography

Published Date : July 10, 2017


Optical Coherence Tomography is a developing technique in the arena of medicine. It is diagnostic tool used in the branch of ophthalmology. OCT is an imaging technique used to obtain the cross-sectional view of the retina, the optic nerve head and retinal nerve fiber layer. Working of OCT is based on the principle of Michelson interferometry which involves a low-coherence infrared light coupled to a fiber-optic which travels through a beam-splitter and is directed through the ocular media to finally reach the retina and a reference mirror. There is a formation of an interference pattern at the instant when there is an interaction of reflected light and reference mirror. At this point the distance between retinal tissue and light source is equal to the distance between reference mirror and light source.

Market for optical coherence tomography (OCT)

The global market for optical coherence tomography is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.16% during the forecast period of 2017-2021. The market driving factor for this is the increasing implementation of modern techniques and skills in small hospitals along with the larger ones. Owing to the developing tools used in most of the hospitals, the market industry for OCT is expanding at the global level.

Advantages and Disadvantages of optical coherence tomography:


OCT provides a faster and easier method for diagnosis. This technique gives results quicker as compared to other traditional medical diagnosing procedures.

OCT is a computerized procedure. Since this is not operated mechanically, therefore chances of error are reduced.

OCT gives a better image of the test results. This process follows higher number of scans and thus provides an image of higher resolution as the result of diagnosis.

OCT provides broad and dynamic range of operations.

OCT involves rapid data acquisition rate.

OCT uses simple catheter / endoscope. The design of the catheter / endoscope installed in OCT is small and inexpensive.

The device used in OCT is portable. The structure of the device is compact and hence makes it easy to carry.


OCT has a limited penetration power. It can result in penetration of up to 2-3 mm, ideal case being 4 mm.

Femtosecond laser used in OCT is expensive.

During OCT, the transverse resolution needs to be similar to axial resolution. If this goes below10 μm, a short confocal parameter is needed which results in the focus falling off rapidly.


Optical coherence tomography is an emerging tool in the medical field. With the advanced technology and developed techniques, it is gaining popularity around the globe. However, the choice still depends on the client to decide what would be most suited to one.