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Simulation-based evaluation of the resolution and quantitative accuracy of temperature-modulated fluorescence tomography.


Conventional fluorescence tomography (FT) can recover the distribution of fluorescent agents within a highly scattering medium. However, poor spatial resolution remains its foremost limitation. Previously, we introduced a new fluorescence imaging technique termed "temperature-modulated fluorescence tomography" (TM-FT), which provides high-resolution images of fluorophore distribution. TM-FT is a multimodality technique that combines fluorescence imaging with focused ultrasound to locate thermo-sensitive fluorescence probes using a priori spatial information to drastically improve the resolution of conventional FT. In this paper, we present an extensive simulation study to evaluate the performance of the TM-FT technique on complex phantoms with multiple fluorescent targets of various sizes located at different depths. In addition, the performance of the TM-FT is tested in the presence of background fluorescence. The results obtained using our new method are systematically compared with those obtained with the conventional FT. Overall, TM-FT provides higher resolution and superior quantitative accuracy, making it an ideal candidate for in vivo preclinical and clinical imaging. For example, a 4 mm diameter inclusion positioned in the middle of a synthetic slab geometry phantom (D:40  mm×W:100  mm) is recovered as an elongated object in the conventional FT (x=4.5  mm; y=10.4  mm), while TM-FT recovers it successfully in both directions (x=3.8  mm; y=4.6  mm). As a result, the quantitative accuracy of the TM-FT is superior because it recovers the concentration of the agent with a 22% error, which is in contrast with the 83% error of the conventional FT.

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