Noninvasive cross-sectional visualization of enamel cracks by optical coherence tomography in vitro

Kanako Imai, Yasushi Shimada, Alireza Sadr, Yasunori Sumi, Junji Tagami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Current methods for the detection of enamel cracks are not very sensitive. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a promising diagnostic method for creating cross-sectional imaging of internal biological structures by measuring echoes of backscattered light. In this study, swept-source OCT (SS-OCT), a variant of OCT that sweeps the near-infrared wavelength at a rate of 30 kHz over a span of 110 nm centered at 1,330 nm, was examined as a diagnostic tool for enamel cracks. Methods: Twenty extracted human teeth were visually evaluated without magnification. SS-OCT was conducted on locations in which the presence of an enamel crack was suspected under visual inspection using a photocuring unit as transillumination. The teeth were then sectioned with a diamond saw and directly viewed under a confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM). Results: Using SS-OCT, the presence and extent of enamel cracks were clearly visualized on images based on backscattering signals. The extension of enamel cracks beyond the dentinoenamel junction could also be confirmed. The diagnostic accuracy of SS-OCT was shown to be superior to that of conventional visual inspection - the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve - for the detection of enamel crack and whole-thickness enamel crack; visual inspection: 0.69 and 0.56, SS-OCT: 0.85 and 0.77, respectively). Conclusions: Enamel cracks can be clearly detected because of increased backscattering of light matching the location of the crack, and the results correlated well with those from the CLSM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1269-1274
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Endodontics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross-sectional imaging
  • diagnosis
  • enamel crack
  • receiver operating characteristic analysis
  • sensitivity
  • specificity
  • swept-source optical coherence tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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