The pathophysiological progression of chronic diseases, including atherosclerosis and cancer, is closely related to compositional changes in biological tissues containing endogenous fluorophores such as collagen, elastin, and NADH, which exhibit strong autofluorescence under ultraviolet excitation. Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIm) provides robust detection of the compositional changes by measuring fluorescence lifetime, which is an inherent property of a fluorophore. In this paper, we present a dual-modality system combining a multispectral analog-mean-delay (AMD) FLIm and a high-speed swept-source optical coherence tomography (OCT) to simultaneously visualize the cross-sectional morphology and biochemical compositional information of a biological tissue. Experiments using standard fluorescent solutions showed that the fluorescence lifetime could be measured with a precision of less than 40 psec using the multispectral AMD-FLIm without averaging. In addition, we performed ex vivo imaging on rabbit iliac normal-looking and atherosclerotic specimens to demonstrate the feasibility of the combined FLIm-OCT system for atherosclerosis imaging. We expect that the combined FLIm-OCT will be a promising nextgeneration imaging technique for diagnosing atherosclerosis and cancer due to the advantages of the proposed label-free high-precision multispectral lifetime measurement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics