Assessing tissue birefringence with imaging modality polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) could improve the characterization of in vivo tissue pathology. Among the birefringent components, collagen may provide invaluable clinical information because of its alteration in disorders ranging from myocardial infarction to arthritis. But the features required of clinical imaging modality in these areas usually include the ability to assess the parameter of interest rapidly and without extensive data analysis, the characteristics that single-detector PS-OCT demonstrates. But beyond detecting organized collagen, which has been previously demonstrated and confirmed with the appropriate histological techniques, additional information can potentially be gained with PS-OCT, including collagen type, form versus intrinsic birefringence, the collagen angle, and the presence of multiple birefringence materials. In part I, we apply the simple but powerful fast-Fourier transform (FFT) to both PS-OCT mathematical modeling and in vitro bovine meniscus for improved PS-OCT data analysis. The FFT analysis yields, in a rapid, straightforward, and easily interpreted manner, information on the presence of multiple birefringent materials, distinguishing the true anatomical structure from patterns in image resulting from alterations in the polarization state and identifying the tissue∕phantom optical axes. Therefore the use of the FFT analysis of PS-OCT data provides information on tissue composition beyond identifying the presence of organized collagen in real time and directly from the image without extensive mathematical manipulation or data analysis. In part II, Helistat phantoms (collagen type I) are analyzed with the ultimate goal of improved tissue characterization. This study, along with the data in part I, advance the insights gained from PS-OCT images beyond simply determining the presence or absence of birefringence.
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