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Surface kinematic and depth-resolved analysis of human vocal folds in vivo during phonation using optical coherence tomography.


The human vocal fold (VF) oscillates in multiple vectors and consists of distinct layers with varying viscoelastic properties that contribute to the mucosal wave. Office-based and operative laryngeal endoscopy are limited to diagnostic evaluation of the VF epithelial surface only and are restricted to axial-plane characterization of the horizontal mucosal wave. As such, understanding of the biomechanics of human VF motion remains limited. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a micrometer-resolution, high-speed endoscopic imaging modality which acquires cross-sectional images of tissue. Our study aimed to leverage OCT technology and develop quantitative methods for analyzing the anatomy and kinematics of in vivo VF motion in the coronal plane. A custom handheld laryngeal stage was used to capture OCT images with 800 A-lines at 250 Hz. Automated image postprocessing and analytical methods were developed. Novel kinematic analysis of in vivo, long-range OCT imaging of the vibrating VF in awake human subjects is reported. Cross-sectional, coronal-plane panoramic videos of the larynx during phonation are presented with three-dimensional videokymographic and space-time velocity analysis of VF motion. Long-range OCT with automated computational methods allows for cross-sectional dynamic laryngeal imaging and has the potential to broaden our understanding of human VF biomechanics and sound production.

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