Avoiding clinical misinterpretation and artifacts of optical coherence tomography analysis of the optic nerve, retinal nerve fiber layer, and ganglion cell layer

John J. Chen, Randy H. Kardon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

14 Scopus citations


Background: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has become an important tool for diagnosing optic nerve disease. The structural details and reproducibility of OCT continues to improve with further advances in technology. However, artifacts and misinterpretation of OCT can lead to clinical misdiagnosis of diseases if they go unrecognized. Evidence Acquisition: A literature review using PubMed combined with clinical and research experience. Results: We describe the most common artifacts and errors in interpretation seen on OCT in both optic nerve and ganglion cell analyses. We provide examples of the artifacts, discuss the causes, and provide methods of detecting them. In addition, we discuss a systematic approach to OCT analysis to facilitate the recognition of artifacts and to avoid clinical misinterpretation. Conclusions: While OCT is invaluable in diagnosing optic nerve disease, we need to be cognizant of the artifacts that can occur with OCT. Failure to recognize some of these artifacts can lead to misdiagnoses and inappropriate investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-438
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Neuro-Ophthalmology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Clinical Neurology

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