Utilization potential of intraluminal optical coherence tomography for the Eustachian tube

Imaging the Eustachian tube is challenging because of its complex anatomy and limited accessibility. This study fabricated a fiber-based optical coherence tomography (OCT) catheter and investigated its potential for assessing the Eustachian tube anatomy. A customized OCT system and an imaging catheter, termed the Eustachian OCT, were developed for visualizing the Eustachian tube. Three male swine cadaver heads were used to study OCT image acquisition and for subsequent histologic correlation. The imaging catheter was introduced through the nasopharyngeal opening and reached toward the middle ear. The OCT images were acquired from the superior to the nasopharyngeal opening before and after Eustachian tube balloon dilatation. The histological anatomy of the Eustachian tube was compared with corresponding OCT images, The new, Eustachian OCT catheter was successfully inserted in the tubal lumen without damage.


Fig: Experimental setup of the Eustachian optical coherence tomography (OCT) system (A). Photographs of the OCT catheter (B), showing the side view of the catheter (B, left) and the distal end of the imaging probe without the catheter sheath (B, right).

Cross-sectional images of the tube were successfully obtained, and the margins of the anatomical structures including cartilage, mucosa lining, and fat could be successfully delineated. After balloon dilatation, the expansion of the cross-sectional area could be identified from the OCT images. Using the OCT technique to assess the Eustachian tube anatomy was shown to be feasible, and the fabricated OCT image catheter was determined to be suitable for Eustachian tube assessment.


Byun, H., Kim, Y.H., Xing, J. et al. Utilization potential of intraluminal optical coherence tomography for the Eustachian tube. Sci Rep 11,6219 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-85634-3

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