Imaging-based Assessment of Choriocapillaris: A Comprehensive Review. Semin Ophthalmol 2022;:1-22.Abstract.
PURPOSE: Over the past two decades, advancements in imaging modalities have significantly evolved the diagnosis and management of retinal diseases. Through these novel platforms, we have developed a deeper understanding of the anatomy of the choroidal vasculature and the choriocapillaris. The recently developed tools such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) and OCT angiography (OCTA) have helped elucidate the pathological mechanisms of several posterior segment diseases. In this review, we have explained the anatomy of the choriocapillaris and its close relationship to the outer retina and retinal pigment epithelium. METHODS: A comprehensive search of medical literature was performed through the Medline/PubMed database using search terms: choriocapillaris, choroid, quantification, biomarkers, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, choroidal blood flow, mean blur rate, flow deficit, optical coherence tomography, optical coherence tomography angiography, fluorescein angiography, indocyanine green angiography, OCTA, Doppler imaging, uveitis, choroiditis, white dot syndrome, tubercular serpiginous-like choroiditis, choroidal granuloma, pachychoroid, toxoplasmosis, central serous chorioretinopathy, multifocal choroiditis, choroidal neovascularization, choroidal thickness, choroidal vascularity index, choroidal vascular density, and choroidal blood supply. The search terms were used either independently or combined with choriocapillaris/choroid. RESULTS: The imaging techniques which are used to qualitatively and quantitatively analyze choriocapillaris are described. The pathological alterations in the choriocapillaris in an array of conditions such as diabetes mellitus, age-related macular degeneration, pachychoroid spectrum of diseases, and inflammatory disorders have been comprehensively reviewed. The future directions in the study of choriocapillaris have also been discussed. CONCLUSION: The development of imaging tools such as OCT and OCTA has dramatically improved the assessment of choriocapillaris in health and disease. The choriocapillaris can be delineated from the stromal choroid using the OCT and quantified by manual or automated methods. However, these techniques have inherent limitations due to the lack of an anatomical distinction between the choriocapillaris and the stromal choroid, which can be overcome with the use of predefined segmentation slabs on OCT and OCTA. These segmentation slabs help in standardizing the choriocapillaris imaging and obtain repeatable measurements in various conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, pachychoroid spectrum, and ocular inflammations. Additionally, Doppler imaging has also been effectively used to evaluate the choroidal blood flow and quantifying the choriocapillaris and establishing its role in the pathogenesis of various retinochoroidal diseases. As tremendous technological advancements such as wide-field and ultra-wide field imaging take place, there will be a significant improvement in the ease and accuracy of quantifying the choriocapillaris.