Choriocapillaris Imaging Using Multiple En Face Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography Image Averaging

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Abstract

Importance

Imaging of the choriocapillaris in vivo is challenging with existing technology. Optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA), if optimized, could make the imaging less challenging.

Objective

To investigate multiple en face image averaging on OCTA images of the choriocapillaris.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Observational, cross-sectional case series at a referral institutional practice in Los Angeles, California. From the original cohort of 21 healthy individuals, 17 normal eyes of 17 participants were included in the study. The study dates were August to September 2016.

Exposures

All participants underwent OCTA imaging of the macula covering a 3 × 3-mm area using OCTA software (Cirrus 5000 with AngioPlex; Carl Zeiss Meditec). One eye per participant was repeatedly imaged to obtain 9 OCTA cube scan sets. Registration was first performed using superficial capillary plexus images, and this transformation was then applied to the choriocapillaris images. The 9 registered choriocapillaris images were then averaged. Quantitative parameters were measured on binarized OCTA images and compared with the unaveraged OCTA images.

Main Outcome and Measure

Vessel caliber measurement.

Results

Seventeen eyes of 17 participants (mean [SD] age, 35.1 [6.0] years; 9 [53%] female; and 9 [53%] of white race/ethnicity) with sufficient image quality were included in this analysis. The single unaveraged images demonstrated a granular appearance, and the vascular pattern was difficult to discern. After averaging, en face choriocapillaris images showed a meshwork appearance. The mean (SD) diameter of the vessels was 22.8 (5.8) µm (range, 9.6-40.2 µm). Compared with the single unaveraged images, the averaged images showed more flow voids (1423 flow voids [95% CI, 967-1909] vs 1254 flow voids [95% CI, 825-1683], P < .001), smaller average size of the flow voids (911 [95% CI, 301-1521] µm2 vs 1364 [95% CI, 645-2083] µm2, P < .001), and greater vessel density (70.7% [95% CI, 61.9%-79.5%] vs 61.9% [95% CI, 56.0%-67.8%], P < .001). The distribution of the number vs sizes of the flow voids was skewed in both unaveraged and averaged images. A linear log-log plot of the distribution showed a more homogeneous distribution in the averaged images compared with the unaveraged images.

Conclusions and Relevance

Multiple en face averaging can improve visualization of the choriocapillaris on OCTA images, transforming the images from a granular appearance to a level where the intervascular spaces can be resolved in healthy volunteers.

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