Abstract

Raman spectroscopy can provide valuable information about bone tissue composition in studies of bone development, biomechanics, and health. In order to study the Raman spectra of bone <i>in vivo</i>, instrumentation that enhances the recovery of subsurface spectra must be developed and validated. Five fiber-optic probe configurations were considered for transcutaneous bone Raman spectroscopy of small animals. Measurements were obtained from the tibia of sacrificed mice, and the bone Raman signal was recovered for each probe configuration. The configuration with the optimal combination of bone signal intensity, signal variance, and power distribution was then evaluated under <i>in vivo</i> conditions. Multiple <i>in vivo</i> transcutaneous measurements were obtained from the left tibia of 32 anesthetized mice. After collecting the transcutaneous Raman signal, exposed bone measurements were collected and used as a validation reference. Multivariate analysis was used to recover bone spectra from transcutaneous measurements. To assess the validity of the transcutaneous bone measurements cross-correlations were calculated between standardized spectra from the recovered bone signal and the exposed bone measurements. Additionally, the carbonate-to-phosphate height ratios of the recovered bone signals were compared to the reference exposed bone measurements. The mean cross-correlation coefficient between the recovered and exposed measurements was 0.96, and the carbonate-to-phosphate ratios did not differ significantly between the two sets of spectra (<i>p</i> > 0.05). During these first systematic <i>in vivo</i> Raman measurements, we discovered that probe alignment and animal coat color influenced the results and thus should be considered in future probe and study designs. Nevertheless, our noninvasive Raman spectroscopic probe accurately assessed bone tissue composition through the skin in live mice.

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