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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2004 Jul;45(7):2399-406.

Optical coherence tomography 3: Automatic delineation of the outer neural retinal boundary and its influence on retinal thickness measurements.

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Retinal Diagnostic and Treatment Division, Hospital de Olhos de Araraquara, Araraquara-SP, Brazil.



To investigate the automatic delineation of the outer limits of the macular neural retina, by using the optical coherence tomography (OCT)-3 built-in software, and to determine its influence in assessing retinal thickness in the normal macula.


Retrospective analysis of the OCT3 data at a tertiary-care referral center was performed to study the automatic delineation of the outer neural retina boundary generated by the OCT built-in software. In parallel, a cross-sectional study was designed to compare retinal thickness measurements obtained at specific macular regions of nine normal eyes by the automatic measurement tool with those obtained using a manual-caliper-assisted technique.


OCT data from 121 eyes were evaluated. Two parallel, linear highly reflective layers (HRL) were visible at the level of the outer retinal boundary in normal macular regions. Disappearance of the inner and maintenance of the outer HRL was noted in the presence of eye conditions affecting the external retinal layers. The automated software delineation for the outer retinal border was primarily guided by the presence of the inner HRL, whereas the correlation of the OCT findings with the expected clinical and angiographic features on eyes presenting specific macular conditions pointed toward a deeper retinal pigment epithelium-retina interface occurring at the level of the outer HRL. There was a statistically significant difference between the retinal thickness in specific normal macular regions obtained by the automatic measurement tool and the caliper-assisted technique in which the outer retinal border delineation was based on the outer HRL (P = 0.008, Wilcoxon signed rank test).


Incorrect delineation of the outer neural retina boundary is occurring with the automated retinal thickness measurement tool of the OCT3 software. At specific regions of the normal macula, retinal thicknesses were significantly underestimated due to such misalignment.

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