Quantitative characterization of mechanically indented in vivo human skin in adults and infants using optical coherence tomography

Pin Chieh Huang, Paritosh Pande, Ryan L. Shelton, Frank Joa, Dave Moore, Elisa Gillman, Kimberly Kidd, Ryan M. Nolan, Mauricio Odio, Andrew Carr, Stephen A. Boppart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Influenced by both the intrinsic viscoelasticity of the tissue constituents and the time-evolved redistribution of fluid within the tissue, the biomechanical response of skin can reflect not only localized pathology but also systemic physiology of an individual. While clinical diagnosis of skin pathologies typically relies on visual inspection and manual palpation, a more objective and quantitative approach for tissue characterization is highly desirable. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an interferometry-based imaging modality that enables in vivo assessment of cross-sectional tissue morphology with micron-scale resolution, which surpasses those of most standard clinical imaging tools, such as ultrasound imaging and magnetic resonance imaging. This pilot study investigates the feasibility of characterizing the biomechanical response of in vivo human skin using OCT. OCT-based quantitative metrics were developed and demonstrated on the human subject data, where a significant difference between deformed and nondeformed skin was revealed. Additionally, the quantified postindentation recovery results revealed differences between aged (adult) and young (infant) skin. These suggest that OCT has the potential to quantitatively assess the mechanically perturbed skin as well as distinguish different physiological conditions of the skin, such as changes with age or disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034001
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • biomechanics
  • dermatology
  • edema
  • image analysis
  • optical coherence tomography
  • skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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