The search for methods to evaluate the extent and severity of skin lesions, such as burns and other skin disorders, has been a subject of extentive research. While suction testing, elastography and other tests can be done noninvasively on intact skin, these tests cannot be done on burns and open wounds due to the possible injury that may occur. In addition, they fail to yield comparable results obtained using destructive tests such as uniaxial tensile testing.
We have developed a technique to combine optical coherence tomography (OCT) with vibrational analysis (VOCT) to non-invasively and non-destructively evaluate the properties of skin and wounds. The result of this analysis is a "virtual biopsy" of skin and burn tissue that can be correlated with the extent of healing. In this study we perform a comparative analysis of thermal and chemical burns and normal skin by scanning OCT images and measuring the elastic moduli of normal skin and thermal and chemical burn scars.
It is concluded that the scans of OCT images and measurements of resonant frequency and moduli of burn scars show differences when compared to measurements made on normal skin. In both thermal and chemically induced scar tissue the absence of the rete pegs results in a change in slope of the average pixel intensity versus depth profiles suggesting that the loss of the rete pegs in burn wounds and perhaps skin lesions can be diagnosed non invasively using the "virtual biopsy". Using the "virtual biopsy" it is possible to follow changes in the morphology and physical properties of the epidermis and dermis to evaluate the extent of healing and the effects of therapeutic treatments used to treat skin lesions and wounds.