Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has revolutionized the management of ophthalmic diseases with the precise anatomic information it provides with non-invasive imaging. The high-resolution cross-sectional tissue details make OCT a natural complement to ophthalmic surgery. Intraoperative OCT (iOCT) has the potential to provide real-time feedback to surgeons thus improving surgical care and outcomes. This research activity will focus on translating OCT technology into the operating room and will be led by Justis P. Ehlers, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute. Dr. Ehlers is a highly trained retina surgeon with extensive experience in the field of iOCT. His immediate career goals include developing his skills as a clinician-scientist through focused educational endeavors while establishing a clinical framework for the use of OCT in the operating room. The three aims of this research activity reflect these goals and include (1) completion of a comprehensive prospective study utilizing iOCT during ophthalmic surgery, (2) design and testing of OCT-friendly surgical instrumentation, and (3) development and implementation of iOCT software platforms.
The first aim will provide a rich database for the utility of iOCT in various procedures (e.g., cataract surgery, corneal transplantation, macular hole surgery, epiretinal membrane surgery). Based on the initial feasibility study, multiple condition-specific studies will be carrid out to refine the use of iOCT.
The second aim will address the problems with current instrumentation and the associated poor light transmission and limited OCT-visibility. Novel materials and instrument prototypes are being tested for their optical properties to develop OCT-friendly instruments that allow for visualization of the underlying tissue and the instrument.
The third aim will address the shortcomings of current software packages. Novel software algorithms are in development for this research activity that will provide automated real-time analysis of subtle changes in the conditions of the eye during surgery (e.g., macular hole geometry alterations). In the long-term, Dr. Ehlers plans to develop comprehensive disease-specific platforms for the application of iOCT to surgical eye care in order to improve patient outcomes and test these indications in a multi-center clinical trial. In addition to the research activity, r. Ehlers will enroll in the Clinical Research Scholars Program at Case Western Reserve University to further hone his research skills and develop a foundation for a successful career as an independent clinician-scientist. Dr. Ehlers has assembled an outstanding mentorship team (Drs. Peter Kaiser, Cynthia Toth, and William J. Dupps). The mentors'experience in instrument design, biomedical engineering, translational OCT research, software development, and iOCT greatly enhances the strength of this research proposal. Dr. Ehlers has also developed strong partnerships with collaborators in instrument design (Peregrine Surgical), software development (ImageIQ), and OCT technology (Bioptigen). These partnerships also greatly strengthen the foundation of the proposal and the likelihood of both short-term and long-term success.

Public Health Relevance

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an imaging technique that provides invaluable information regarding the anatomy of the eye and the presence of disease processes, such as scar tissue or edema. Currently, OCT is used in the office setting, but the anatomic information that OCT provides is a natural complement to surgery. This research activity's focus is the integration of OCT into ophthalmic surgery in order to improve visualization of surgical maneuvers, enhance understanding of the completion of surgical objectives, and improve surgical outcomes for patients.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZEY1)
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Agarwal, Neeraj
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Cleveland Clinic Lerner
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