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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Aug 24;52(9):5022-8. doi: 10.1167/iovs.10-6065.

Image reconstruction of the subbasal nerve plexus with in vivo confocal microscopy.

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Institute for Applied Computer Science and Automation, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany.



To overcome the anterior corneal mosaic (ACM) phenomenon in in vivo confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and to reconstruct undistorted images of the subbasal nerve plexus (SNP), facilitating morphometric analysis in the presence of ACM ridges.


CLSM was performed in five healthy volunteers. An original image processing algorithm based on phase correlation was used to analyze and reduce motion distortions in volume scan image sequences. Three-dimensional tracing of the SNP was performed to reconstruct images containing only the SNP layer, with nerve fibers clearly visible even in ACM areas.


Real-time mapping of the SNP revealed the presence of ridges with K-structures underneath them in all cases. The occurrence of K-structures correlated directly with development of ACM observed by slit lamp and resulted in massive deformation at the level of Bowman's membrane, seriously interfering with examination of SNP structures. The average elevation of ACM ridges was 20.6 μm (range, 8.7-34.0 μm). The novel method presented permitted reconstruction of the SNP layer in regions of ACM.


The described method allows the precise analysis and elimination of motion artifacts in CLSM volume scans, in conjunction with the capability to reconstruct SNP structures even in the presence of severe ACM. The robustness and automation of the described algorithms require ongoing development, but this will provide a sound basis for extended studies of corneal nerve regeneration or degeneration and for use in clinical practice.

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