OCT has several characteristics that point to its future importance as biomedical imaging technology.
OCT images can have axial resolutions of one to fifteen micrometers, which is a significant increase over conventional ultrasound. Contrary to ultrasound, imaging can be performed directly through air, without direct contact with the tissue or a transducing medium.
Imaging can be performed in situ, without the need to excise a specimen. By doing so, it is possible to image structures where a biopsy would be dangerous or impossible. As a result, it also allows better coverage, reducing the sampling errors associated with excisional biopsy.
In contrast to conventional biopsy and histopathology, imaging can be performed in real time without the need to process a specimen. In this way, pathology can be monitored on screen and stored as high-resolution videos. By coupling real-time imaging with surgery, it is possible to provide surgical guidance based on real-time diagnosis.