Biophotonics '17: Lecture by Prof. Wolfgang Drexler

Optical Coherence Tomography: Technology and Applications

Prof. Wolfgang Drexler

Professor Wolfgang Drexler

Head of Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering
Director of Christian Doppler Laboratory
Medical University Vienna
Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering
General Hospital Vienna
4L Waehringer Guertel 18-20 A-1090 Vienna, Austria

Tel: +43 1 40400 1984 (Mrs. Pichler)


In the last two decades optical coherence tomography (OCT) has established itself as a unique non-invasive, optical medical diagnostic imaging modality,enabling unprecedented in vivo cross-sectional tomographic visualization of internal microstructure in a variety of biological systems. Ophthalmology has been the most successful and commercially most active medical field for OCT so far, but several other OCT applications, e.g. in cardiology, dentistry, gastroenterology or dermatology, are on the verge of expanding their market comparable to or larger than that of ophthalmology.

Especially in the last decade ultrabroad bandwidth light sources as well as spectral/frequency domain OCT detection technology enabled three-dimensional ultrahigh resolu­tion OCT with unprecedented axial resolution, approaching resolution levels of con­ventional histopathology, enabling optical biopsy of biological tissue. Furthermore emerging swept source laser technologies and parallel or full-field OCT techniques enabled multiple millions of A-scan rates per second, allowing large area OCT scans with high definition sampling, investigation of dynamic processes or four-dimensional (3D over time) imaging.

In addition, extensions of OCT are under development that should provide enhanced contrast or non-invasive depth resolved functional imaging of the investigated tissue, including extraction of birefringent, spectroscopic, blood flow or physiologic tissue information. These extensions of OCT should not only improve image contrast, but should also enable the differentiation and early detection of pathologies via localized functional state.

Recently OCT has also been combined with different complementary imaging technologies (photoacoustics, CARS, multi-photon microscopy, fluorescent imaging, ultrasound, adaptive optics) to hybrid/multi-modal approaches to compensate fundamental limits of OCT in order to significantly enhance its performance towards molecular imaging. The lectures covers the basic principle, and reviews advances in OCT technology as well as biomedical applications.


[1] W. Drexler, J.G. Fuijmoto, “Optical Coherence Tomography: Technology and Applications”, Springer Publishing, 1440 pages, 2008. 978-3-540-77549-2 – 2nd Edition to be published 2013.

[2] W. Drexler, J. G. Fujimoto, "State-of-the-art retinal optical coherence tomography," Prog Retinal Eye Res 27 (1), 45-88, 2008.

[3] W. Drexler, U. Morgner, R.K. Ghanta, J.S. Schuman, F.X. Kärtner, E.P. Ippen, J.G. Fujimoto, “Ultrahigh resolution optical coherence tomography of the human retina,” Nature Medicine, Vol 7, No. 4, 502-507, 2001. 

[4] W. Drexler, “Ultrahigh resolution optical coherence tomography”, Journal Biomed Optics, 9(1), 47-74, 2004. 


W. Drexler, M. Liu, A. Kumar; T. Kamali; A. Unterhuber, and R. A. Leitgeb, “Optical coherence tomography today: speed, contrast, and multimodality,” J. Biomed. Opt. 19, 071412 (2014).