, Volume 17, Issue 11, pp 2926-2933
Date: 01 May 2007

Optical tomography of the neonatal brain

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A new method of assessing neurological function and pathology in the newborn infant is being developed based on the transmission of near-infrared light across the brain. Absorption by blood over a range of wavelengths reveals a strong dependency on oxygenation status, and measurements of transmitted light enable the spatial variation in the concentrations of the oxygenated and de-oxygenated forms of hemoglobin to be derived. Optical tomography has so far provided static three-dimensional maps of blood volume and oxygenation as well as dynamic images revealing the brain’s response to sensory stimulation and global hemodynamic changes. The imaging modality is being developed as a safe and non-invasive tool that can be utilized at the cotside in intensive care. Optical tomography of the healthy infant brain is also providing a means of studying neurophysiological processes during early development and the potential consequences of prematurity.