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Optics Express


A promising method to incorporate tissue structural information into the reconstruction of diffusion-based fluorescence imaging is introduced. The method regularizes the inversion problem with a Laplacian-type matrix, which inherently smoothes pre-defined tissue, but allows discontinuities between adjacent regions. The technique is most appropriately used when fluorescence tomography is combined with structural imaging systems. Phantom and simulation studies were used to illustrate significant improvements in quantitative imaging and linearity of response with the new algorithm. Images of an inclusion containing the fluorophore Lutetium Texaphyrin (Lutex) embedded in a cylindrical phantom are more accurate than in situations where no structural information is available, and edge artifacts which are normally prevalent were almost entirely suppressed. Most importantly, spatial priors provided a higher degree of sensitivity and accuracy to fluorophore concentration, though both techniques suffer from image bias caused by excitation signal leakage. The use of spatial priors becomes essential for accurate recovery of fluorophore distributions in complex tissue volumes. Simulation studies revealed an inability of the “no-priors” imaging algorithm to recover Lutex fluorescence yield in domains derived from T1 weighted images of a human breast. The same domains were reconstructed accurately to within 75% of the true values using prior knowledge of the internal tissue structure. This algorithmic approach will be implemented in an MR-coupled fluorescence spectroscopic tomography system, using the MR images for the structural template and the fluorescence data for region quantification.