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Biomed Opt Express. 2015 Mar 3;6(4):1090-108. doi: 10.1364/BOE.6.001090. eCollection 2015 Apr 1.

Analyzing three-dimensional ultrastructure of human cervical tissue using optical coherence tomography.

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Department of Electrical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.


During pregnancy, the uterine cervix is the mechanical barrier that prevents delivery of a fetus. The underlying cervical collagen ultrastructure, which influences the overall mechanical properties of the cervix, plays a role in maintaining a successful pregnancy until term. Yet, not much is known about this collagen ultrastructure in pregnant and nonpregnant human tissue. We used optical coherence tomography to investigate the directionality and dispersion of collagen fiber bundles in the human cervix. An image analysis tool has been developed, combining a stitching method with a fiber orientation measurement, to study axially sliced cervix samples. This tool was used to analyze the ultrastructure of ex-vivo pregnant and non-pregnant hysterectomy tissue samples taken at the internal os, which is the region of the cervix adjacent to the uterus. With this tool, directionality maps of collagen fiber bundles and dispersion of collagen fiber orientation were analyzed. It was found that that the overall preferred directionality of the collagen fibers for both the nonpregnant and pregnant samples were circling around the inner cervical canal. Pregnant samples showed greater dispersion than non-pregnant samples. Lastly, we observed regional differences in collagen fiber dispersion. Fibers closer to the inner canal showed more dispersion than the fibers on the radial edges.


(100.0100) Image processing; (110.4500) Optical coherence tomography; (170.4440) ObGyn; (170.6935) Tissue characterization

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