Minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques for the correction of scoliosis are under development. The installation of fusionless implants targeting the vertebral growth plate requires precise identification of spinal micro-structures. During ex vivo studies, we demonstrate that optical coherence tomography (OCT) allows visualization of spinal tissues including the growth plate, the intervertebral disc and the vertebral body. This study aims at designing a handheld probe using OCT and assessing its potential for use in MIS. An OCT handheld probe was built which satisfies criteria for resolution, penetration and field of view required for spinal MIS techniques. Ex vivo images of rat tail and porcine vertebrae enabled differentiating musculoskeletal tissues of the spine (growth plate, intervertebral disc and vertebral body). Pending in vivo studies on porcine models, we evaluated the probe on a human finger and demonstrated its ability to image human tissues at video rate (25 fps) with proper imaging depth and resolution. These preliminary results showed the potential of the OCT probe for dynamic and precise imaging of spinal tissues.
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