Spectral domain optical coherence tomography in the evaluation and management of infectious retinitis

Sudhi P. Kurup, Samira Khan, Manjot K. Gill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose: To describe spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) findings of infectious retinitis, including affected layer of retinal involvement, changes at the vitreoretinal interface, and response to therapy. Methods: Observational case series. A retrospective review of five patients with infectious retinitis: one with toxoplasmosis, three with herpetic retinitis secondary to cytomegalovirus, and one with herpetic retinitis secondary to varicella zoster virus. Each patient underwent a complete ophthalmologic examination, fundus photography, and SD-OCT imaging (Heidelberg Spectralis; Heidelberg Engineering, Heidelberg, Germany) of the affected retina at the initial visit with serial fundus photography and SD-OCT imaging at follow-up visits. Approval was obtained from the Institutional Review Board of Northwestern University. Results: Spectral domain ocular coherence tomography of retinitis associated with Toxoplasma, cytomegalovirus, or varicella zoster virus demonstrates full-thickness disruption of the retinal architecture and overall thickening. This was in contrast to clinically imitating lesions such as cotton-wool spots, which only showed focal swelling of the inner retina. There was a clear demarcation between the area of active retinitis and unaffected retina. Inactivity was apparent when the previously affected thickened area became atrophic. The SD-OCT also demonstrated changes at the vitreoretinal interface where there was frequently a detachment of the posterior hyaloid (four of five cases) associated with overlying vitreous debris and formation of tractional changes. In the case of varicella zoster virus retinitis, this traction subsequently led to a total retinal detachment. Conclusion: In the assessment of infectious retinitides, SD-OCT is a helpful adjunct to clinical examination and fundus photography. It provides high-resolution detail regarding the border of infectious activity, the vitreoretinal interface, and the differentiation of lesions that can clinically mimic active retinitis. Serial SD-OCT also provides further insight into response to therapy and postinfectious retinal changes by highlighting areas that are at greater risk for complications such as retinal detachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2233-2241
Number of pages9
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Retinitis
  • Toxoplasmosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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