Purpose To investigate whether hyperreflective foci (HRF) exhibit flow projection artifact on OCTA, and study the efficacy of commercial projection artifact removal software (PAR-OCTA, Optovue, Inc), and a custom projection resolved OCTA (PR-OCTA) in distinguishing artifacts from true flow in retinal angiomatous proliferation (RAP). Methods The study included five eyes with HRF representing pigment migration in dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), five eyes with leaking treatment-naïve RAP, and ten eyes with diabetic hard exudates. We examined flow signal on OCTA cross-sections using PAR, and performed PR-OCTA to study the effect of increasingly stringent projection removal thresholds. Flow signal intensity was analyzed and quantified using imageJ (NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA), by calculating the percentage of red pixels (R) representing flow, compared to green (G) and blue (B) pixels. Results PAR-OCTA cross sections revealed persistent flow signal in all HRF, including RAP, hard exudates and pigment migration. In RAP, PR-OCTA detected intransigent flow, irrespective of the flow removal threshold. Mean R in the five RAP lesions remained higher than mean G and B at the most stringent PR-OCTA threshold (40.96% vs 29.52 and 29.52%, respectively), denoting persistence of flow. In contrast, increasing the PR-OCTA threshold in pigment migration and hard exudates removed the flow signal, with a statistically significant decrease in mean R with increasing threshold. (p = 0.017 and 0.0029, respectively) Conclusion Commercial PAR-OCTA is not completely effective at removing artifactual flow in hard exudates and HRF related to pigment migration. Custom built PR-OCTA, using a sliding scale of threshold, allowed us to distinguish true flow in RAP from artifactual flow in avascular HRF. Further studies are needed to validate the optimum threshold for projection artifact removal, which would preserve true flow in RAP and the small intraretinal capillaries.
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