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Dual-modality fluorescence lifetime imaging-optical coherence tomography intravascular catheter system with freeform catheter optics.



Intravascular imaging is key to investigations into atherosclerotic plaque pathobiology and cardiovascular diagnostics overall. The development of multimodal imaging devices compatible with intracoronary applications has the potential to address limitations of currently available single-modality systems.


We designed and characterized a robust, high performance multimodal imaging system that combines optical coherence tomography (OCT) and multispectral fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIm) for intraluminal simultaneous assessment of structural and biochemical properties of coronary arteries.


Several shortcomings of existing FLIm-OCT catheter systems are addressed by adopting key features, namely (1) a custom fiber optic rotary joint based on an air bearing, (2) a broadband catheter using a freeform reflective optics, and (3) integrated solid-state FLIm detectors. Improvements are quantified using a combination of experimental characterization and simulations.


Excellent UV and IR coupling efficiencies and stability (IR: 75.7 % ± 0.4 % , UV: 45.7 % ± 0.35 % ) are achieved; high FLIm optical performance is obtained (UV beam FWHM: 50 μm) contemporaneously with excellent OCT beam quality (IR beam FWHM: 17 μm). High-quality FLIm OCT image of a human coronary artery specimen was acquired.


The ability of this intravascular imaging system to provide comprehensive structural and biochemical properties will be valuable to further our understanding of plaque pathophysiology and improve cardiovascular diagnostics.

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