In pathology, histological examination of the tissue is the “gold standard” to diagnose various diseases. It has contributed significantly toward identifying the abnormalities in tissues and cells, but has inherent drawbacks when used for fast and accurate diagnosis. These limitations include the lack of in vivo observation in real time and sampling errors due to limited number and area coverage of tissue sections. Its diagnostic yield also varies depending on the ability of the physician and the effectiveness of any image guidance technique that may be used for tissue screening during excisional biopsy. In order to overcome these current limitations of histology-based diagnostics, there are significant needs for either complementary or alternative imaging techniques which perform non-destructive, high resolution, and rapid tissue screening. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an emerging imaging modality which allows real-time cross-sectional imaging with high resolutions that approach those of histology. OCT could be a very promising technique which has the potential to be used as an adjunct to histological tissue observation when it is not practical to take specimens for histological processing, when large areas of tissue need investigating, or when rapid microscopic imaging is needed. This review will describe the use of OCT as an image guidance tool for fast tissue screening and directed histological tissue sectioning in pathology.
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