Robotic Optical Coherence Tomography Retinal Imaging for Emergency Department Patients: A Pilot Study for Emergency Physicians’ Diagnostic Performance

Ailin Song, Kyung Min Roh, Jay B. Lusk, Nita G. Valikodath, Eleonora M. Lad, Mark Draelos, Pablo Ortiz, Rebecca G. Theophanous, Alexander T. Limkakeng, Joseph A. Izatt, Ryan P. McNabb, Anthony N. Kuo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Study objective: To evaluate the diagnostic performance of emergency physicians’ interpretation of robotically acquired retinal optical coherence tomography images for detecting posterior eye abnormalities in patients seen in the emergency department (ED). Methods: Adult patients presenting to Duke University Hospital emergency department from November 2020 through October 2021 with acute visual changes, headache, or focal neurologic deficit(s) who received an ophthalmology consultation were enrolled in this pilot study. Emergency physicians provided standard clinical care, including direct ophthalmoscopy, at their discretion. Retinal optical coherence tomography images of these patients were obtained with a robotic, semi-autonomous optical coherence tomography system. We compared the detection of abnormalities in optical coherence tomography images by emergency physicians with a reference standard, a combination of ophthalmology consultation diagnosis and retina specialist optical coherence tomography review. Results: Nine emergency physicians reviewed the optical coherence tomography images of 72 eyes from 38 patients. Based on the reference standard, 33 (46%) eyes were normal, 16 (22%) had at least 1 urgent/emergency abnormality, and the remaining 23 (32%) had at least 1 nonurgent abnormality. Emergency physicians' optical coherence tomography interpretation had 69% (95% confidence interval [CI], 49% to 89%) sensitivity for any abnormality, 100% (95% CI, 79% to 100%) sensitivity for urgent/emergency abnormalities, 48% (95% CI, 28% to 68%) sensitivity for nonurgent abnormalities, and 64% (95% CI, 44% to 84%) overall specificity. In contrast, emergency physicians providing standard clinical care did not detect any abnormality with direct ophthalmoscopy. Conclusion: Robotic, semi-autonomous optical coherence tomography enabled ocular imaging of emergency department patients with a broad range of posterior eye abnormalities. In addition, emergency provider optical coherence tomography interpretation was more sensitive than direct ophthalmoscopy for any abnormalities, urgent/emergency abnormalities, and nonurgent abnormalities in this pilot study with a small sample of patients and emergency physicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-508
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


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