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Med Phys. 2010 Apr;37(4):1638-46.

Monitoring of hemodynamic changes induced in the healthy breast through inspired gas stimuli with MR-guided diffuse optical imaging.

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  • 1Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover New Hampshire 03755, USA.



The modulation of tissue hemodynamics has important clinical value in medicine for both tumor diagnosis and therapy. As an oncological tool, increasing tissue oxygenation via modulation of inspired gas has been proposed as a method to improve cancer therapy and determine radiation sensitivity. As a radiological tool, inducing changes in tissue total hemoglobin may provide a means to detect and characterize malignant tumors by providing information about tissue vascular function. The ability to change and measure tissue hemoglobin and oxygenation concentrations in the healthy breast during administration of three different types of modulated gas stimuli (oxygen/ carbogen, air/carbogen, and air/oxygen) was investigated.


Subjects breathed combinations of gases which were modulated in time. MR-guided diffuse optical tomography measured total hemoglobin and oxygen saturation in the breast every 30 s during the 16 min breathing stimulus. Metrics of maximum correlation and phase lag were calculated by cross correlating the measured hemodynamics with the stimulus. These results were compared to an air/air control to determine the hemodynamic changes compared to the baseline physiology.


This study demonstrated that a gas stimulus consisting of alternating oxygen/carbogen induced the largest and most robust hemodynamic response in healthy breast parenchyma relative to the changes that occurred during the breathing of room air. This stimulus caused increases in total hemoglobin and oxygen saturation during the carbogen phase of gas inhalation, and decreases during the oxygen phase. These findings are consistent with the theory that oxygen acts as a vasoconstrictor, while carbogen acts as a vasodilator. However, difficulties in inducing a consistent change in tissue hemoglobin and oxygenation were observed because of variability in intersubject physiology, especially during the air/oxygen or air/carbogen modulated breathing protocols.


MR-guided diffuse optical imaging is a unique tool that can measure tissue hemodynamics in the breast during modulated breathing. This technique may have utility in determining the therapeutic potential of pretreatment tissue oxygenation or in investigating vascular function. Future gas modulation studies in the breast should use a combination of oxygen and carbogen as the functional stimulus. Additionally, control measures of subject physiology during air breathing are critical for robust measurements.

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