We developed a new dual-modality intravascular imaging system based on fast time-gated fluorescence intensity imaging and spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) for the purpose of interventional detection of atherosclerosis. A pulsed supercontinuum laser was used for fluorescence and OCT imaging. A double-clad fiber (DCF)- based side-firing catheter was designed and fabricated to have a 23 μm spot size at a 2.2 mm working distance for OCT imaging. Its single-mode core is used for OCT, while its inner cladding transports fluorescence excitation light and collects fluorescent photons. The combination of OCT and fluorescence imaging was achieved by using a DCF coupler. For fluorescence detection, we used a time-gated technique with a novel single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) working in an ultra-fast gating mode. A custom-made delay chip was integrated in the system to adjust the delay between the excitation laser pulse and the SPAD gate-ON window. This technique allowed to detect fluorescent photons of interest while rejecting most of the background photons, thus leading to a significantly improved signal to noise ratio (SNR). Experiments were carried out in turbid media mimicking tissue with an indocyanine green (ICG) inclusion (1 mM and 100 μM) to compare the time-gated technique and the conventional continuous detection technique. The gating technique increased twofold depth sensitivity, and tenfold SNR at large distances. The dual-modality imaging capacity of our system was also validated with a silicone-based tissue-mimicking phantom.
Yuankang Lu, Maxime Abran, Guy Cloutier, and Frédéric Lesage, "Catheter-based time-gated near-infrared fluorescence/OCT imaging system," Proc. SPIE 10471, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Applications of Light in Cardiology 2018, 104710D (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 27, 2018; Published: 14 February 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2288638.
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