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Circulation. 2002 Nov 26;106(22):2771-4.

Optical coherence tomography: a new high-resolution imaging technology to study cardiac development in chick embryos.

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  • 1Neonatal Perinatal Research Institute, Division of Neonatology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a depth-resolved, noninvasive, non-destructive imaging modality, the use of which has yet to be fully realized in developmental biology.


We visualized embryonic chick hearts at looping stages using an OCT system with a 22 micro m axial and 27 micro m lateral resolution and an acquisition rate of 4000 A-scans per second. Normal chick embryos from stages 14 to 22 and sham-operated and cardiac neural crest-ablated embryos from stages 15 and 18 were scanned by OCT. Three-dimensional data sets were acquired and processed to create volumetric reconstructions and short video clips. The OCT-scanned embryos (2 in each group) were photographed after histological sectioning in comparable planes to those visualized by OCT. The optical and histological results showing cardiovascular microstructures such as myocardium, the cardiac jelly, and endocardium are presented.


OCT is a powerful imaging modality which can provide new insight in assessing and understanding normal and abnormal cardiac development in a variety of animal models.

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