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Novel laser Doppler flowmeter for pulpal blood flow measurements

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

We have proposed and experimentally demonstrated a new configuration of laser Doppler flowmetry for dental pulpal blood flow measurements. To date, the vitality of a tooth can be determined only by subjective thermal or electric tests, which are of questionable reliability and may induced pain in patient. Non-invasive techniques for determining pulpal vascular reactions to injury, treatment, and medication are in great demand. The laser Doppler flowmetry technique is non-invasive; however, clinical studies have shown that when used to measure pulpal blood flow the conventional back-scattering Doppler method suffers from low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and unreliable flux readings rendering it impossible to calibrate. A simplified theoretical model indicates that by using a forward scattered geometry the detected signal has a much higher SNR and can be calibrated. The forward scattered signal is readily detectable due to the fact that teeth are relatively thin organs with moderate optical loss. A preliminary experiment comparing forward scattered detection with conventional back- scattered detection was carried out using an extracted human molar. The results validated the findings of the simple theoretical model and clearly showed the utility of the forward scattering geometry. The back-scattering method had readings that fluctuated by as much as 187% in response to small changes in sensor position relative to the tooth. The forward scattered method had consistent readings (within 10%) that were independent of the sensor position, a signal-to-noise ratio that was at least 5.6 times higher than the back-scattering method, and a linear response to flow rate.

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