• Optical coherence tomography;
  • oscillation;
  • vocal fold;
  • mucosal wave;
  • stroboscopy;
  • laryngology;
  • biomechanics;
  • dynamics;
  • biomaterials;
  • rheology



Optical coherence tomography (OCT) can provide high-resolution (∼10–15 μm/pixel) images of vocal fold microanatomy, as demonstrated previously. We explored physiologically triggered Fourier-domain OCT for imaging vocal folds during phonation. The goal is to visualize dynamic histological cross sections and four-dimensional data sets where multiple planes are displayed in synchronized motion. If feasible, this approach could be a useful research tool and spur development of new clinical instrumentation.

Study Design:

A Fourier-domain, triggered OCT system was created and tested in experiments on excised calf larynges to obtain preliminary observations and characterize important factors affecting image quality.


Larynges were imaged during phonation driven by warm, humidified air. A subglottal pressure signal was used to synchronize the OCT system with the phonatory cycle. Image sequences were recorded as functions of anatomical location or subglottal pressure. Implant materials were also imaged during vibration, both in isolation and after injection into a vocal fold.


Oscillations of epithelium and lamina propria were observed, and parameters such as shape, amplitude, and velocity of the vocal fold mucosal waves were found to be measurable. Ripples of mucosal wave as small as 100 μm in vertical height were clearly visible. Internal strain was also observed in normal and implanted vocal folds.


Four-dimensional OCT of the vocal fold may help to more directly relate biomechanics to anatomy and disease. It may also be useful for assaying the functional rheology of implants in the context of real tissue. With further development, this technology has potential for clinical endoscopic application. Laryngoscope, 2010