SIGNIFICANCE: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is widely used as a potential diagnostic tool for a variety of diseases including various types of cancer. However, sensitivity and specificity analyses of OCT in different cancers yield results varying from 11% to 100%. Hence, there is a need for more detailed statistical analysis of blinded reader studies. AIM: Extensive statistical analysis is performed on results from a blinded study involving OCT of breast tumor margins to assess the impact of reader variability on sensitivity and specificity. APPROACH: Five readers with varying levels of experience reading OCT images assessed 50 OCT images of breast tumor margins collected using an intraoperative OCT system. Statistical modeling and analysis was performed using the R language to analyze reader experience and variability. RESULTS: Statistical analysis showed that the readers' prior experience with OCT images was directly related to the probability of the readers' assessment agreeing with histology. Additionally, results from readers with prior experience specific to OCT in breast cancer had a higher probability of agreement with histology compared to readers with experience with OCT in other (noncancer) diseases. CONCLUSIONS: The results from this study demonstrate the potential impact of reader training and experience in the assessment of sensitivity and specificity. They also demonstrate even greater potential improvement in diagnostic performance by combining results from multiple readers. These preliminary findings suggest valuable directions for further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • cancer
  • diagnostic accuracy
  • intraoperative
  • optical coherence tomography
  • reader variability
  • sensitivity and specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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