Research Papers: General

Theoretical model for optical oximetry at the capillary level: exploring hemoglobin oxygen saturation through backscattering of single red blood cells

[+] Author Affiliations
Rongrong Liu, Siyu Chen, Vadim Backman

Northwestern University, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Evanston, Illinois, United States

Graham Spicer

Northwestern University, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Evanston, Illinois, United States

Hao F. Zhang

Northwestern University, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Evanston, Illinois, United States

Northwestern University, Department of Ophthalmology, Chicago, Illinois, United States

Ji Yi

Boston University, Department of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

J. Biomed. Opt. 22(2), 025002 (Feb 03, 2017). doi:10.1117/1.JBO.22.2.025002
History: Received August 25, 2016; Accepted January 9, 2017
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Abstract.  Oxygen saturation (sO2) of red blood cells (RBCs) in capillaries can indirectly assess local tissue oxygenation and metabolic function. For example, the altered retinal oxygenation in diabetic retinopathy and local hypoxia during tumor development in cancer are reflected by abnormal sO2 of local capillary networks. However, it is far from clear whether accurate label-free optical oximetry (i.e., measuring hemoglobin sO2) is feasible from dispersed RBCs at the single capillary level. The sO2-dependent hemoglobin absorption contrast present in optical scattering signal is complicated by geometry-dependent scattering from RBCs. We present a numerical study of backscattering spectra from single RBCs based on the first-order Born approximation, considering practical factors: RBC orientations, size variation, and deformations. We show that the oscillatory spectral behavior of RBC geometries is smoothed by variations in cell size and orientation, resulting in clear sO2-dependent spectral contrast. In addition, this spectral contrast persists with different mean cellular hemoglobin content and different deformations of RBCs. This study shows for the first time the feasibility of, and provides a theoretical model for, label-free optical oximetry at the single capillary level using backscattering-based imaging modalities, challenging the popular view that such measurements are impossible at the single capillary level.

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© 2017 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers

Citation

Rongrong Liu ; Graham Spicer ; Siyu Chen ; Hao F. Zhang ; Ji Yi, et al.
"Theoretical model for optical oximetry at the capillary level: exploring hemoglobin oxygen saturation through backscattering of single red blood cells", J. Biomed. Opt. 22(2), 025002 (Feb 03, 2017). ; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.JBO.22.2.025002


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