We present a new method for quantitative visualization of premalignant oral epithelium called scattering attenuation microscopy (SAM). Using low-coherence interferometry, SAM projects measurements of epithelial optical attenuation onto an image of the tissue surface as a color map. The measured attenuation is dominated by optical scattering that provides a metric of the severity of oral epithelial dysplasia (OED). Scattering is sensitive to the changes in size and distribution of nuclear material that are characteristic of OED, a condition recognized by the occurrence of basal-cell-like features throughout the epithelial depth. SAM measures the axial intensity change of light backscattered from epithelial tissue. Scattering measurements are obtained from sequential axial scans of a 3-D tissue volume and displayed as a 2-D SAM image. A novel segmentation method is used to confine scattering measurement to epithelial tissue. This is applied to oral biopsy samples obtained from 19 patients. Our results show that imaging of tissue scattering can be used to discriminate between different dysplastic severities and furthermore presents a powerful tool for identifying the most representative tissue site for biops
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