Tracking blood flow in the laboratory is an important tool for studying ailments like migraines or strokes and designing new ways to address them. Blood flow is also routinely measured in the clinic, and laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI) is one way of measuring these changes; however, this technique requires professional-grade imaging equipment, which limits its use. Now, using
"We demonstrate that the high cost of standard systems is unnecessary, because a system that costs
Measuring blood flow changes using LSCI requires just a few parts - laser light to illuminate the tissue, a camera to record the image, and focusing optics to direct the scattered light to the camera - but at least one of them usually comes with a lofty price tag. The laser light reflects or scatters off the tissue and interferes with itself to create the speckle pattern collected by the camera. This speckle pattern provides a way to visualize the flow of blood within the tissue: areas with a high flow rate show up in the resulting image as blurrier speckles, which can be measured by their lower contrast. Together, all the parts can add up to as much as
Unlike past attempts to create a cheaper speckle imager, the UT-
At just 5.6 centimeters in length and weighing only 25 grams, the system is compact and lightweight, which would make it easier to transport for imaging applications outside of the lab, including clinics in areas with limited access to medical care, Dunn said.
Currently, the new system's field of view, which is just a few square millimeters across, and resolution are limited by the size of the webcam sensor, but future versions could have a more flexible layout.
"The lens configuration could be easily adjusted to visualize even smaller structures by magnifying or to visualize larger structures by increasing the field of view, depending on what kind of flow the user is interested in visualizing," Dunn said.
Paper: "Low-cost laser speckle contrast imaging of blood flow using a webcam (http://www.opticsinfobase.org/boe/abstract.cfm?uri=boe-4-10-2269),"
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