Topical Application of Glycerol Increases Penetration Depth of Optical Coherence Tomography in Diagnosis of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Fieke Adan*, Ellen M M Oyen, Robert J Holtackers, Eva van Loo, Gert-Jan Dermont, Nicole W J Kelleners-Smeets, Patty J Nelemans, Klara Mosterd

*Corresponding author for this work

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Optical coherence tomography is a non-invasive imaging technique that enables high-resolution in vivo imaging of skin. Although optical coherence tomography is promising for diagnosing basal cell carcinoma, its limited penetration depth may impede basal cell carcinoma subtyping. This study evaluated whether topical application of glycerol can increase penetration depth and improve the image quality and visibility of characteristic features of basal cell carcinoma. A total of 61 patients with a total of 72 basal cell carcinomas were included. Optical coherence tomography scans were obtained before and after application of an 85% glyce-rol solution. The mean penetration depth of each optical coherence tomography scan was acquired by automatically tracing both skin surface and the point of signal loss using a custom-made MATLAB program. Mean ± standard deviation penetration depth increased from 883 ± 108 to 904 ± 88 µm before and after glycerol application, respectively (p = 0.005). Topical application of glycerol leads to a significant 2.4% increase in penetration depth. However, no significant differences in image quality and visibility of basal cell carcinoma features were found.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberadv00474
JournalActa Dermato-Venereologica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2021


  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell/diagnostic imaging
  • Glycerol
  • Humans
  • Skin/diagnostic imaging
  • Skin Neoplasms/diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence

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