Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an emerging highresolution real-time biomedical imaging technology that has potential as a novel investigational tool in developmental biology and functional genomics. In this study, murine embryos and embryonic hearts are visualized with an OCT system capable of 2-μm axial and 15-μm lateral resolution and with real-time acquisition rates. We present, to our knowledge, the first sets of high-resolution 2- and 3-D OCT images that reveal the internal structures of the mammalian (murine) embryo (E10.5) and embryonic (E14.5 and E17.5) cardiovascular system. Strong correlations are observed between OCT images and corresponding hematoxylin- and eosin-stained histological sections. Real-time in vivo embryonic (E10.5) heart activity is captured by spectral-domain optical coherence tomography, processed, and displayed at a continuous rate of five frames per second. With the ability to obtain not only high-resolution anatomical data but also functional information during cardiovascular development, the OCT technology has the potential to visualize and quantify changes in murine development and in congenital and induced heart disease, as well as enable a wide range of basic in vitro and in vivo research studies in functional genomics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021014
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Cardiovascular malfunction
  • Embryology
  • Functional genomics
  • Imaging
  • Optical coherence tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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