Evaluation of laser-assisted trans-nail drug delivery with optical coherence tomography

Meng Tsan Tsai, Ting Yen Tsai, Su Chin Shen, Chau Yee Ng, Ya Ju Lee, Jiann Der Lee, Chih Hsun Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The nail provides a functional protection to the fingertips and surrounding tissue from external injuries. The nail plate consists of three layers including dorsal, intermediate, and ventral layers. The dorsal layer consists of compact, hard keratins, limiting topical drug delivery through the nail. In this study, we investigate the application of fractional CO2 laser that produces arrays of microthermal ablation zones (MAZs) to facilitate drug delivery in the nails. We utilized optical coherence tomography (OCT) for real-time monitoring of the laser-skin tissue interaction, sparing the patient from an invasive surgical sampling procedure. The time-dependent OCT intensity variance was used to observe drug diffusion through an induced MAZ array. Subsequently, nails were treated with cream and liquid topical drugs to investigate the feasibility and diffusion efficacy of laser-assisted drug delivery. Our results show that fractional CO2 laser improves the effectiveness of topical drug delivery in the nail plate and that OCT could potentially be used for in vivo monitoring of the depth of laser penetration as well as real-time observations of drug delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2111
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 12


  • Drug delivery
  • Fractional laser
  • Laser ablation
  • Nail
  • Optical coherence tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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