Optical Coherence Imaging of the Ear

Looking through the eardrum into the middle ear

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an important emerging diagnostic tool for imaging the auditory system. OCT is a non-contact imaging modality that uses optical interferometry to produce depth-resolved scans in tissues that are very similar to those obtained with ultrasound.

OCT is particularly useful because it can see through the eardrum into the middle ear without requiring its removal. OCT scanning can be performed in 2D or 3D and the technology offers the possibility of obtaining Doppler information about the motion of auditory structures in response to sound.

The image below shows a 3D reconstruction of a middle ear from OCT data. The leftmost image shows the image obtained if the eardrum is physically removed and the middle image shows the same ear imaged with the eardrum in place but removed digitally. The rightmost image shows the full dataset including both the eardrum and middle ear.