Virtual histology of the human heart using optical coherence tomography

Christina M. Ambrosi, Nader Moazami, Andrew M. Rollins, Igor R. Efimov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Optical coherence tomography (OCT) allows for the visualization of micron-scale structures within nontransparent biological tissues. For the first time, we demonstrate the use of OCT in identifying components of the cardiac conduction system and other structures in the explanted human heart. Reconstructions of cardiac structures up to 2 mm below the tissue surface were achieved and validated with Masson Trichrome histology in atrial, ventricular, sinoatrial nodal, and atrioventricular nodal preparations. The high spatial resolution of OCT provides visualization of cardiac fibers within the myocardium, as well as elements of the cardiac conduction system; however, a limiting factor remains its depth penetration, demonstrated to be ∼2 mm in cardiac tissues. Despite its currently limited imaging depth, the use of OCT to identify the structural determinants of both normal and abnormal function in the intact human heart is critical in its development as a potential aid to intracardiac arrhythmia diagnosis and therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number054002
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009


  • Biomedical optics
  • Coherence
  • Medical imaging
  • Myocardium
  • Structure
  • Tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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