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Variability of scan quality and perfusion density in longitudinal optical coherence tomography angiography imaging.

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A) images are subject to variability, but the extent to which learning impacts OCT-A measurements is unknown. We determined whether there is a learning effect in glaucoma patients and healthy controls imaged with OCT-A.

METHODS: Ninety-one open-angle glaucoma patients and 54 healthy controls were imaged every 4 months over a period of approximately 1 year in this longitudinal cohort study. We analysed 15°×15° scans, centred on the fovea, in one eye of each participant. Two-dimensional projection images for the superficial, intermediate and deep vascular plexuses were exported and binarised after which perfusion density was calculated. Linear mixed-effects models were used to investigate the association between perfusion density and follow-up time.

RESULTS: The mean (SD) age of glaucoma patients and healthy controls was 67.3 (8.1) years and 62.1 (9.0) years, respectively. There was a significant correlation between perfusion density and scan quality in both glaucoma patients (r=0.50 (95% CI 0.42 to 0.58); p<0.05) and healthy controls (r=0.41 (95% CI 0.29 to 0.52); p<0.05). An increase in perfusion density occurred over time and persisted, even after adjustment for scan quality (1.75% per year (95% CI 1.14 to 2.37), p<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Perfusion density measurements are subject to increasing experience of either the operator or participant, or a combination of both. These findings have implications for the interpretation of longitudinal measurements with OCT-A.

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