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Opt Express. 2009 Sep 14;17(19):16681-95. doi: 10.1364/OE.17.016681.

Experimental bioluminescence tomography with fully parallel radiative-transfer-based reconstruction framework.

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Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Bioluminescence imaging is a very sensitive imaging modality, used in preclinical molecular imaging. However, in its planar projection form, it is non-quantitative and has poor spatial resolution. In contrast, bioluminescence tomography (BLT) promises to provide three dimensional quantitative source information. Currently, nearly all BLT reconstruction algorithms in use employ the diffusion approximation theory to determine light propagation in tissues. In this process, several approximations and assumptions that are made severely affect the reconstruction quality of BLT. It is therefore necessary to develop novel reconstruction methods using high-order approximation models to the radiative transfer equation (RTE) as well as more complex geometries for the whole-body of small animals. However, these methodologies introduce significant challenges not only in terms of reconstruction speed but also for the overall reconstruction strategy. In this paper, a novel fully-parallel reconstruction framework is proposed which uses a simplified spherical harmonics approximation (SPN). Using this framework, a simple linear relationship between the unknown source distribution and the surface measured photon density can be established. The distributed storage and parallel operations of the finite element-based matrix make SPN-based spectrally resolved reconstruction feasible at the small animal whole body level. Performance optimization of the major steps of the framework remarkably improves reconstruction speed. Experimental reconstructions with mouse-shaped phantoms and real mice show the effectiveness and potential of this framework. This work constitutes an important advance towards developing more precise BLT reconstruction algorithms that utilize high-order approximations, particularly second-order self-adjoint forms to the RTE for in vivo small animal experiments.

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