The volume of peripapillary vessels within the retinal nerve fibre layer: an optical coherence tomography angiography study of normal subjects

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Abstract

Background/aims

To investigate the contribution of vascular volume calculated by optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) to the measurement of peripapillary retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) thickness.

Methods

We used OCTA scans to build volumetric maps of the RNFL angiograms by thresholding the decorrelation images and summing the number of white pixels along the z-axis at each location. We used these maps to calculate the contribution of the vascular tissue to the RNFL thickness.

Results

We analysed 51 eyes from 36 subjects. The mean RNFL volume calculated on the peripapillary region was 0.607±0.045 mm3 and the mean vessel volume was 0.217±0.035 mm3, with a mean vessel/total RNFL ratio of 35.627%±3.942%. When evaluated in the peripapillary circular section, the total contribution of the vascular tissue to the global RNFL thickness was 29.071%±3.945%. The superior and inferior sectors showed the highest percentage of vascular tissue within the RNFL circular profile (31.369% and 34.788% respectively).

Conclusions

We found that the vascular contribution to the RNFL thickness is 29.07±3.945%. This is much higher than what has been reported from calculations made on the structural OCT alone (13% reported by Hood et al and 11.3%±1.6% for the Cirrus OCT and 11.8%±1.4% for the Spectralis OCT reported by Patel et al). We conclude that evaluation of the vascular tissue contribution to the RNFL thickness with OCTA might be useful when performing precise quantification of the neuronal tissue.

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