Near-infrared (NIR) optical imaging is an emerging noninvasive modality for breast cancer diagnosis. However, the
currently available optical imaging systems towards tomography studies are limited either by instrument portability,
patient comfort, or flexibility to image any given tissue volume. Herein, a hand-held based optical imaging system is
developed such that it can possibly overcome some of the above limitations. The unique features of the hand-held
optical probe are: (i) to perform simultaneous multiple point illumination and detection, thus decreasing the total imaging
time and improving the overall signal strength; (ii) to adapt to the contour of tissue surface, thus decreasing the leakage
of excitation and emission signal at contact surface; and (iii) to obtain trans-illumination measurements apart from
reflectance measurements, thus improving the depth information. The increased detected signal strength as well as total
interrogated tissue volume is demonstrated by simulation studies (i.e. forward model) over a 5×10×10 cc slab phantom.
The appropriate number and layout of the source and detection points on the probe head is determined and the hand-held
optical probe is developed. A frequency-domain ICCD (intensified charge coupled device) detection system, which
allows simultaneous multiple points detection, is developed and coupled to the hand-held probe in order to perform
fluorescence-enhanced optical imaging of tissue phantoms. In the future, imaging of homogenous liquid phantoms will
be used for the assessment of this hand-held system, followed by extensive imaging studies on different phantoms types
under various experimental conditions.