Abstract

A novel, to our knowledge, sensor for measuring the stretch in soft tissues such as skin is described. The technique, which is a modification of two-dimensional polarization imaging, uses changes in the reflectivity of polarized light as a monitor of skin stretch. Measurements show that the reflectivity increases with stretch. Measurements were made on guinea pig skin and on nonbiological materials. The changes in reflectivity result from the changes that take place in the interface roughness between skin or material layers and the consequential changes in the diffuse reflective characteristics of the skin. Conceptually, as the roughness of an interface decreases, a smoother reflecting interface is produced, resulting in a commensurate increase in specular reflection. A simple roughness model correctly predicts the main experimental results. Results can be extended easily to real-time stretch analysis of large tissue areas that would be applicable for predicting stresses in skin during and after the surgical closure of wounds.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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