Quantitative upper airway imaging with anatomic optical coherence tomography

Julian J. Armstrong, Matthew S. Leigh, David D. Sampson, Jennifer H. Walsh, David R. Hillman, Peter R. Eastwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Measurements of upper airway size and shape are important in investigating the pathophysiology of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and in devising, applying, and determining the effectiveness of treatment modalities. We describe an endoscopic optical technique (anatomic optical coherence tomography, aOCT) that provides quantitative real-time imaging of the internal anatomy of the human upper airway. Methods: Validation studies were performed by comparing aOCT- and computed tomography (CT)-derived measurements of cross-sectional area (CSA) in (1) conduits in a wax phantom and (2) the velo-, oro-, and hypopharynx during wakefulness in five volunteers. aOCT scanning was performed during sleep in one subject with OSA. Results: aOCT generated images of pharyngeal shape and measurements of CSA and internal dimensions that were comparable to radiographic CT images. The mean difference between aOCT- and CT-derived measurements of CSA in (1) the wax phantom was 2.1 mm2 with limits of agreement (2 SD) from -13.2 to 17.4 mm2 and intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.99 (p < 0.001) and (2) the pharyngeal airway was 14.1 mm2 with limits of agreement from -43.7 to 57.8 mm 2 and intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.89 (p < 0.001). aOCT generated quantitative images of changes in upper airway size and shape before, during, and after an apneic event in an individual with OSA. Conclusions: aOCT generates quantitative, real-time measurements of upper airway size and shape with minimal invasiveness, allowing study over lengthy periods during both sleep and wakefulness. These features should make it useful for study of upper airway behavior to investigate OSA pathophysiology and aid clinical management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-233
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Sleep apnea
  • Upper airway anatomy


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