Three dimensional alveolar geometry of subpleural lung parenchyma is of high interest for respiratory research exemplary for the development of numerical models of the lung for simulating alveolar mechanics. We present a method for 3D imaging lung tissue up to a depth of 800 μm beneath the pleura by optical coherence tomography with a resolution of less than 10 μm. Isolated and fixated rabbit lungs were perfused with a series of ethanol with increasing concentration (20 % – 50 % – 70 % – 95 % – 100 %; 100 ml of each concentration). The alveolar space, normally air filled, is flooded by the ethanol. The ethanol filling provides an adaptation of the refraction index and therefore imaging artifacts caused by differences in diffraction index between air and tissue are minimized. We improved the penetration depth from 200 μm up to 800 μm for subpleural lung parenchyma and we demonstrated that the acquired 3D data sets are suitable for 3D reconstruction of alveolar tissue.

© 2009 OSA/SPIE

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