Preoperative image data can facilitate intrasurgical guidance by revealing interior features of opaque tissues, provided image data can be accurately registered to the physical patient. Registration is challenging in organs that are deformable and lack features suitable for use as alignment fiducials (e.g. liver, kidneys, etc.). However, provided intraoperative sensing of surface contours can be accomplished, a variety of rigid and deformable 3D surface registration techniques become applicable. In this paper, we evaluate the feasibility of conoscopic holography as a new method to sense organ surface shape. We also describe potential advantages of conoscopic holography, including the promise of replacing open surgery with a laparoscopic approach. Our feasibility study investigated use of a tracked off-the-shelf conoscopic holography unit to perform a surface scans on several types of biological and synthetic phantom tissues. After first exploring baseline accuracy and repeatability of distance measurements, we performed a number of surface scan experiments on the phantom and ex vivo tissues with a variety of surface properties and shapes. These indicate that conoscopic holography is capable of generating surface point clouds of at least comparable (and perhaps eventually improved) accuracy in comparison to published experimental laser triangulation-based surface scanning results.© (2009) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.