Adie, Steven G
This thesis is concerned with exploiting the native optical coherence tomography (OCT) contrast mechanism in new ways and with a new contrast mechanism, in both cases to enhance the information content of the tomographic image. Through experiments in microsphere solutions, we show that static speckle contains information about local particle density when the effective number of scatterers in the OCT resolution volume is less than about five. This potentially provides contrast enhancement in OCT images based on local scatterer density, and we discuss the experimental conditions suited to utilising this in biological tissue. We also describe the corrupting effects of multiple scattering, a ubiquitous phenomenon in OCT, on the information content of the static speckle. Consequently, we detail the development of polarisation-based metrics for characterising multiple scattering in OCT images of solid biological tissues. We exploit a detection scheme used for polarisation-sensitive contrast for a new purpose. We present experiments demonstrating the behaviour of these metrics in liquid phantoms, and in biological tissues, ranging from homogeneous non-birefringent to highly heterogeneous and birefringent samples. We discuss the conditions under which these metrics could be used to characterise the relative contribution of single and multiple scattering and, thus, aid in the study of penetration depth limits in OCT. We present a study of a new contrast mechanism - dynamic elastography which seeks to determine the dynamic mechanical properties of tissues. We present a framework for describing the OCT signal in samples undergoing vibrations, and perform experiments at vibration frequencies in the order of tens to hundreds of Hertz, to confirm the theory, and demonstrate the modes of measurement possible with this technique. These modes of measurement, including acoustic amplitude-sweep and frequency-sweep, could provide new information about the local mechanical properties of a sample. We describe a technological advancement enabling, in principle, measurements of local tissue refractive index contrast much deeper within a sample, than is possible with conventional OCT imaging. The design is based on measurement of the optical path length through tissue filling a fixed-width channel situated at the tip of a needle. The needle design and calibration is presented, as well as measurements of scattering phantoms and various biological tissues. This design potentially enables the use of refractive index-based contrast enhancement in the guidance of breast biopsy procedures.
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