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Reflective Terahertz Imaging for early diagnosis of skin burn severity


In this thesis we propose that early detection of skin burns is the clinical killer application of Reflective Terahertz imaging. Terahertz imaging has gathered a lot of attention for biomedical applications in the past decade. Properties like sensitivity to water; low energy, non-ionizing nature, transparency to clothing and plastics, and less scattering compared to IR have led to the exploration of THz radiation for imaging of biological tissues.

This thesis builds up from the discovery to proof of concept to repeatability of imaging skin burns with Reflective THz imaging system in live rats. Immediate edematous response followed by evolution of burn wound zones, reorganization, redistribution and dissipation of edema was captured in the Terahertz images of burns in rats over a span of three days. Videos made from THz images captured over three days depicting this response have been included as supplemental material to this thesis. Experimental design, modifications and an attempt to quantify the findings are discussed. Statistical tests revealed that distinction among partial and full thickness severities might be possible in early phases of injury. This gives THz imaging an edge over other imaging modalities like Infra red, Laser Doppler imaging and Polarization sensitive coherence tomography etc which are unable to detect the injured area early on.

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