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Localized Mechanical Compression as a Technique for the Modification of Biological Tissue Optical Properties
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Tissue optical clearing aims to increase the penetration depth of near-collimated light in biological tissue to enhance optical diagnostic, therapeutic, and cosmetic procedures. Previous studies have shown the effects of chemical optical clearing on tissue optical properties. Drawbacks associated with chemical clearing include the introduction of potentially toxic exogenous chemicals into the tissue, poor site targeting, as well as slow transport of the chemicals through tissue. Thus, alternative clearing methods have been investigated. Mechanical compression is one such alternative tissue optical clearing technique. The mechanisms of action of mechanical compression may be similar to those of chemical clearing, though they have yet to be investigated systematically. This research describes the design and execution of a number of procedures useful for the quantification of the tissue optical clearing effects of localized mechanical compression. The first experimental chapter presents the effects of compression on image resolution and contrast of a target imaged through ex vivo biological tissue. It was found that mechanical optical clearing allowed recovery of smaller targets at higher contrast sensitivity when compared to chemical clearing. Also, thickness-independent tissue clearing effects were observed. In the second experimental chapter, dynamic changes in tissue optical properties, namely scattering and absorption coefficients (?s' and ?a, respectively) were monitored during a controlled compression protocol using different indentation geometries. A reduction in ?s' and ?a was evident for all indentation geometries, with greater changes occurring with smaller surface area. Results indicate that localized mechanical compression may be harnessed as a minimally-invasive tissue optical clearing technique.
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