, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 309-313

Assessment of tissue viability by polarization spectroscopy

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Abstract

A new and versatile method for tissue viability imaging based on polarization spectroscopy of blood in superficial tissue structures such as the skin is presented in this paper. Linearly polarized light in the visible wavelength region is partly reflected directly by the skin surface and partly diffusely backscattered from the dermal tissue matrix. Most of the directly reflected light preserves its polarization state while the light returning from the deeper tissue layers is depolarized. By the use of a polarization filter positioned in front of a sensitive CCD-array, the light directly reflected from the tissue surface is blocked, while the depolarized light returning from the deeper tissue layers reaches the detector array. By separating the colour planes of the detected image, spectroscopic information about the amount of red blood cells (RBCs) in the microvascular network of the tissue under investigation can be derived. A theory that utilizes the differences in light absorption of RBCs and bloodless tissue in the red and green wavelength region forms the basis of an algorithm for displaying a colour coded map of the RBC distribution in a tissue. Using a fluid model, a linear relationship (cc. = 0.99) between RBC concentration and the output signal was demonstrated within the physiological range 0–4%. In-vivo evaluation using transepidermal application of acetylcholine by the way of iontophoresis displayed the heterogeneity pattern of the vasodilatation produced by the vasoactive agent. Applications of this novel technology are likely to be found in drug and skin care product development as well as in the assessment of skin irritation and tissue repair processes and even ultimately in a clinic case situation.