Background: Common path probes are highly desirable for optical coherence tomography (OCT) as they reduce system complexity and cost. In this work we report an all-fiber common path side viewing monolithic probe for coronary artery imaging.
Methods: Our common path probe was designed for spectrometer based Fourier domain OCT at 1310 nm wavelength. Light from the fiber expands in the coreless fiber region and then focussed by the ball lens. Reflection from ball lens-air interface served as reference signal. The monolithic ball lens probe was assembled within a 560 µmouter diameter drive shaft which was attached to a rotary junction. The drive shaft was placed inside an outer, transparent sheath of 800 µm diameter.
Results: With a source input power of 25 mW, we could achieve sensitivity of 100.5 dB. The axial resolution of the system was found to be 15.6 µm in air and the lateral resolution (full width half maximum) was approximately 49 µm. As proof of principal, images of skin acquired using this probe demonstrated clear visualization of the stratum corneum, epidermis, and papillary dermis, along with sweat ducts.
Conclusion: In this work we have demonstrated a monolithic, ball lens common, path probe for OCT imaging. The designed ball lens probe is easy to fabricate using a laser splicer. Based on the features and capability of common path probes to provide a simpler solution for OCT, we believe that this development will be an important enhancement for certain types of catheters.