Abstract

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has demonstrated considerable potential for a wide range of medical applications. Initial work was done in the time domain OCT (TD-OCT) approach, but recent interest has been generated with spectral domain OCT (SD-OCT) approaches. While SD-OCT offers higher data acquisition rates and no movable parts, we recently pointed out theoretical inferior aspects to its performance relative to TD-OCT. In this paper we focus on specific limitations of swept source OCT (SS-OCT), as this is the more versatile of the two SD-OCT embodiments. We present experimental evidence of reduced imaging penetration, increased low frequency noise, higher multiple scattering (which can be worsened still via aliasing), increased need to control the distance from the sample, and saturation of central bandwidth frequencies. We conclude that for scenarios where the dynamic range is relatively low (e.g., retina), the distance from the sample is relatively constant, or high acquisition rates are needed, SS-OCT has a role. However, when penetration remains important in the setting of a relatively high dynamic range, acquisition rates above video rate are not needed, or the distance to the tissue is not constant, TD-OCT may be the superior approach.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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