A diffuse near-infrared tomography system was used to measure dynamic changes in the absolute optical properties of the human breast that were induced through pressure applied to the tissue surface. Results from five subjects show that absorption and scattering coefficients changed measurably when pressure was increased and that these relative changes correlated with the subjects’ body-mass index, indicating that the effect depends on tissue composition. Fitting the absolute absorption and scattering coefficients at six wavelengths to the molar absorption spectra of the three predominant chromophores revealed that both the average total hemoglobin and oxygen saturation increased by 10%, while water concentration decreased by more than 12%. These changes indicate that the pressure-induced variation is likely due to water displacement and vascular volume increase in the region being imaged, for mild application of pressure to the breast. These results suggest that the pressure applied during optical measurements of tissue may alter the tissue physiology, and care should be taken to factor this effect into the design of optical medical instrumentation. In addition, the technique provides a unique approach to measuring tissue elastic changes in vivo in the female breast and may offer a new method for dynamic contrast imaging based on elasto-optical measurements.
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