We have shown in an ex vivo human coronary artery study that the biochemical information derived from FLIM interpreted in the context of the morphological information from OCT enables a detailed classification of human coronary plaques associated with atherosclerosis. The identification of lipid-rich plaques prone to erosion or rupture and associated with sudden coronary events can impact current clinical practice as well as future development of targeted therapies for “vulnerable” plaques. In order to realize clinical translation of intravascular OCT/FLIM we have had to develop several key technologies. A multimodal catheter endoscope capable of delivering near UV excitation for FLIM and shortwave IR for OCT has been fabricated using a ball lens design with a double clad fiber. The OCT illumination and the FLIM excitation propogate down the inner core while the large outer multimode core captures the fluorescence emission. To enable intravascular pullback imaging with this endoscope we have developed an ultra-wideband fiber optic rotary joint using the same double clad fiber. The rotary joint is based on a lensless design where two cleaved fibers, one fixed and one rotating, are brought into close proximity but not touching. Using water as the lubricant enabled operation over the near UV-shortwave IR range. Transmission over this bandwidth has been measured to be near 100% at rotational frequencies up to 147 Hz. The entire system has been assembled and placed on a mobile cart suitable for cath lab based imaging. System development, performance, and early ex vivo imaging results will be discussed.
Xi Chen, Wihan Kim, Michael Serafino, Brian Walton, Javier A. Jo, and Brian E. Applegate, "Toward intravascular morphological and biochemical imaging of atherosclerosis with optical coherence tomography (OCT) and fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10060, Optical Biopsy XV: Toward Real-Time Spectroscopic Imaging and Diagnosis, 1006007 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 31, 2017; Published: 1 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2256676.5409296072001.
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