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J Biomed Opt. 2012 May;17(5):057002. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.17.5.057002.

Evaluating elastic properties of heterogeneous soft tissue by surface acoustic waves detected by phase-sensitive optical coherence tomography.

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University of Washington, Department of Bioengineering, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


The combined use of surface acoustic wave (SAW) and phase-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PhS-OCT) is useful to evaluate the elasticity of layered biological tissues, such as normal skin. However, the pathological tissue is often originated locally, leading to the alternation of mechanical properties along both axial and lateral directions. We present a feasibility study on whether the SAW technique is sensitive to detect the alternation of mechanical property along the lateral direction within tissue, which is important for clinical utility of this technique to localize diseased tissue. Experiments are carried out on purposely designed tissue phantoms and ex vivo chicken breast samples, simulating the localized change of elasticity. A PhS-OCT system is employed not only to provide the ultra-high sensitive measurement of the generated surface waves on the tissue surface, but also to provide the real time imaging of the tissue to assist the elasticity evaluation of the heterogeneous tissue. The experimental results demonstrate that with PhS-OCT used as a pressure sensor, the SAW is highly sensitive to the elasticity change of the specimen in both vertical and lateral directions with a sensing depth of ∼5 mm with our current system setup, thus promising its useful clinical applications where the quantitative elasticity of localized skin diseases is needed to aid in diagnosis and treatment.

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