Investigation of the Clinical Potential of Polarization-Sensitive Optical Coherence Tomography in a Laryngeal Tumor Model



The vocal cord tissue consists of three anatomical layers from the surface to deep inside: the epithelium that contains almost no collagen, the lamina propria that is composed of abundant collagen, and the vocalis muscle layer. It is clinically important to visualize the tissue microstructure using a non-invasive method, especially in the case of vocal cord nodules or cancer, since histological changes in each layer of the vocal cord cause changes in the voice. Polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) enables phase retardation measurement to evaluate birefringence of tissue with varied organization of collagen fibers in different tissue layers. Therefore, PS-OCT can visualize structural changes between normal and abnormal vocal cord tissue.


A rabbit laryngeal tumor model with different stages of tumor progression was investigated ex-vivo by PS-OCT. A phase retardation slope-based analysis, which quantifies the birefringence in different layers, was conducted to distinguish the epithelium, lamina propria, and muscle layers.


The PS-OCT images showed a gradual decrease in birefringence from normal tissue to advanced tumor tissue. The quantitative analysis provided a more detailed comparison among different stages of the rabbit laryngeal tumor model, which was validated by the corresponding histological findings.


Differences in tissue birefringence was evaluated by PS-OCT phase retardation measurement. It is also possible to indirectly infer the dysplastic changes based on the mucosal and submucosal alterations.

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This study was supported by a grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) (2017R1D1A1B03035048, 2019M3E5D1A02070860, 2019M3E5D1A02070865, 2019M3E5D1A02070866).

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Correspondence to Shuo Tang or Yeh-Chan Ahn.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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The animal studies were performed after receiving approval of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUS) in Kosin University College of Medicine (IACUC approval No. KMAP 15–07).

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Xin, Z., Kim, S.W., Oak, C. et al. Investigation of the Clinical Potential of Polarization-Sensitive Optical Coherence Tomography in a Laryngeal Tumor Model. Tissue Eng Regen Med (2021).

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  • Biomedical engineering
  • Optical tomography
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Birefringence
  • Collagen