Medical optical imaging

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Medical optical imaging describes various imaging techniques using visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light used in imaging. Examples of optical imaging in medicine are optical microscopy, spectroscopy, endoscopy, scanning laser ophthalmoscopy, and optical coherence tomography. Optical techniques are widely used in ophthalmology for the detection of eye diseases (e.g., fluorescence guided surgery), as well as for cancer detection .

Because light is an electromagnetic wave, similar phenomena occur in X-rays, microwaves, radio waves. Chemical imaging or molecular imaging[1][2][3] involves inference from the deflection of light emitted from (e.g. laser, infrared) source to structure, texture, anatomic and chemical properties of material (e.g. crystal, cell tissue). Optical imaging systems may be divided into diffusive[4][5][6] and ballistic imaging[7] systems.

Diffusive optical imaging in neuroscience[edit]

Diffusive optical imaging (DOI), also known as near-infrared optical tomography (NIROT), diffuse optical tomography (DOT) or optical diffusion tomography (ODT) is a technique that gives neuroscientists the ability to simultaneously obtain information about the source of neural activity as well as its time course, allowing to "see" neural activity and study the functioning of the brain.

In this method, a near-infrared laser is positioned on the scalp. Detectors composed of optical fiber bundles are located a few centimeters away from the light source. These detectors sense how the path of light is altered, either through absorption or scattering, as it traverses brain tissue.

This method can provide two types of information. First, it can be used to measure the absorption of light, which is related to concentration of chemicals in the brain. Second, it can measure the scattering of light, which is related to physiological characteristics such as the swelling of glia and neurons that are associated with neuronal firing.

Typical applications include rapid 2D optical topographic imaging of the event-related optical signal (EROS) or Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) signal following brain activity and tomographic reconstruction of an entire 3D volume of tissue to diagnose breast cancer or neonatal brain haemorrhage. The spatial resolution of Diffuse Optical Tomography (DOT) techniques is several millimeters, comparable to the lower end of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The temporal resolution of EROS is very good, comparable to electroencephalography, and magnetoencephalography (~milliseconds), while that of NIRS, which measures hemodynamic changes rather than neuronal activity, is comparable to fMRI (~seconds). DOT instruments are relatively low cost ($150,000), portable and immune to electrical interference. The signal-to-noise ratio of NIRS is quite good, enabling detection of responses to single events in many cases. EROS signals are much weaker, typically requiring averaging of many responses.

Important chemicals that this method can detect include hemoglobin and cytochromes.

Ballistic optical imaging[edit]

Ballistic optical imaging systems ignore the diffused photons and rely only on the ballistic photons to create high-resolution (near-diffraction limited) images through scattering media. An example of ballistic optical imaging modality, is optical coherence tomography that has multiple medical applications, including ophthalmology and intravascular imaging.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Weissleder R.; Mahmood U. (2001). "Molecular Imaging". Radiology. 219: 316–333. doi:10.1148/radiology.219.2.r01ma19316. PMID 11323453. 
  2. ^ Gambhir S.S.; Massoud T.F. (2003). "Molecular imaging in living subjects: seeing fundamental biological processes in a new light" (PDF). Genes & Development. 17 (54): 5–580. doi:10.1101/gad.1047403. PMID 12629038. 
  3. ^ Olive D.M.; Kovar J.L.; Simpson M.A.; Schutz-Geschwender A. (2007). "A systematic approach to the development of fluorescent contrast agents for optical imaging of mouse cancer models" (PDF). Analytical Biochemistry. 367 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1016/j.ab.2007.04.011. PMID 17521598. 
  4. ^ Durduran T; et al. (2010). "Diffuse optics for tissue monitoring and tomography". Rep. Prog. Phys. 73: 076701. doi:10.1088/0034-4885/73/7/076701. 
  5. ^ A. Gibson; J. Hebden; S. Arridge (2005). "Recent advances in diffuse optical imaging" (PDF). Phys. Med. Biol. 50: R1–R43. doi:10.1088/0031-9155/50/4/r01. 
  6. ^ R. F. Bonner, R. Nossal, S. Havlin, G. H. Weiss (1987). "Model for photon migration in turbid biological media". J. Opt. Soc. Am. A. 4: 423. doi:10.1364/josaa.4.000423. 
  7. ^ S. Farsiu; J. Christofferson; B. Eriksson; P. Milanfar; B. Friedlander; A. Shakouri; R. Nowak (2007). "Statistical Detection and Imaging of Objects Hidden in Turbid Media Using Ballistic Photons" (PDF). Applied Optics. 46 (23): 5805–5822. doi:10.1364/ao.46.005805. 

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