Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is uniquely poised for advanced imaging in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract as it allows real-time, subsurface and wide-field evaluation at near-microscopic resolution, which may improve the current limitations or even obviate the need of superficial random biopsies in the surveillance of early neoplasias in the near future. OCT’s greatest impact so far in the GI tract has been in the study of the tubular esophagus owing to its accessibility, less bends and folds and allowance of balloon employment with optimal contact to aid circumferential imaging. Moreover, given the alarming rise in the incidence of Barrett’s esophagus and its progression to adenocarcinoma in the U.S., OCT has helped identify pathological features that may guide future therapy and follow-up strategy. This review will explore the current uses of OCT in the gastrointestinal tract and future directions, particularly with non-endoscopic office-based capsule OCT and the use of artificial intelligence to aid in diagnoses.
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