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Cross-Polarization Optical Coherence Tomography for Clinical Evaluation of Dermal Lesion Degrees in Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus

Cross-Polarization Optical Coherence Tomography for Clinical Evaluation of Dermal Lesion Degrees in Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus

Potapov A.L., Loginova M.M., Moiseev A.A., Radenska-Lopovok S.G., Kuznetsov S.S., Kuznetsova I.A., Mustafina N.N., Safonov I.K., Gladkova N.D., Sirotkina M.A.
Key words: cross-polarization OCT; OCT attenuation coefficient; co-polarization; cross-polarization; vulva; vulvar lichen sclerosus.
2023, volume 15, issue 1, page 53.

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The aim of the study was to identify different degrees of dermal lesions in vulvar lichen sclerosus (VLS) using cross-polarization optical coherence tomography (CP OCT) based on attenuation coefficient to detect disease early manifestations and to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Materials and Methods. The study included 10 patients without pathology and 39 patients with VLS diagnosed histologically. CP OCT was performed in vivo on the inner surface of the labia minora, in the main lesion area. From each scanning point, a 3.4×3.4×1.25-mm3 3D data array was obtained in 26 s. CP OCT examination results were compared with histological examination of specimens stained with Van Gieson’s picrofuchsin.

Quantitative analysis of OCT images was performed by measuring the attenuation coefficient in co-polarization and cross-polarization. For visual analysis, color-coded charts were developed based on OCT attenuation coefficients.

Results. According to histological examination, all patients with VLS were divided into 4 groups as per dermal lesion degree: initial (8 patients); mild (7 patients); moderate (9 patients); severe (15 patients). Typical features of different degrees were interfibrillary edema up to 250 μm deep for initial degree, thickened collagen bundles without edema up to 350 μm deep for mild degree, dermis homogenization up to 700 μm deep for moderate degree, dermis homogenization and total edema up to 1200 μm deep for severe degree.

Pathological processes in dermis during VLS like interfibrillary edema and collagen bundles homogenization were visualized using CP OCT method based on values of attenuation coefficient in co- and cross-polarization channels. However, CP OCT method appeared to be less sensitive to changes of collagen bundles thickness not allowing to distinguish thickened collagen bundles from normal ones with enough statistical significance. The CP OCT method was able to differentiate all degrees of dermal lesions among themselves. OCT attenuation coefficients differed from normal condition with statistical significance for all degrees of lesions, except for mild.

Conclusion. For the first time, quantitative parameters for each degrees of dermis lesion in VLS, including initial degree, were determined by CP OCT method allowing to detect the disease at an early stage and to monitor the applied clinical treatment effectiveness.

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