Optical coherence tomography provides an optical biopsy of burn wounds in children- A pilot study

Judith Lindert, Kianusch Tafazzoli-Lari, Ludger Tüshaus, Beke Larsen, Anna Bacia, Marie Bouteleux, Tina Adler, Valerie Dalicho, Vasileiadis Vasileidos, Tobias Kisch, Felix Stang, Julia Welzel, Lutz Wünsch*

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


Thermic injuries are among the most severe injuries in childhood. Burn depth is the most relevant prognostic factor, and still its assessment is both difficult and controversial. This diagnostic uncertainty results in repeated wound assessments over a 10-day period and carries a relevant risk for over- A nd undertreatment. Precise wound assessment would thus be a significant step toward improved care. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a noninvasive laser-based technique with a penetration depth of ∼2 mm. It provides structural images of the skin while dynamic OCT (D-OCT) shows blood vessels. In this study, we investigated burns and scalds in 130 children with OCT and D-OCT to identify patterns of injury related to the depth of the burn wound. OCT and D-OCT images from burned skin differed consistently from normal skin. We observed several not formerly described morphologic patterns associated with burn injuries. Superficial wounds are characterized by a loss of the epidermal layer and a smooth surface. With deeper wounds, surface irregularity, loss of the dermal papillary pattern, disappearance of skin lines, and characteristic changes in the microvascular architecture were observed. This is the first systematic study of D-OCT in the assessment of burn wounds in children. A number of burn-associated patterns of injury were identified. Thus, D-OCT provided an "optical biopsy" of burn wounds that adds significant information about the severity of a burn wound.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106005
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2018


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