Development of Fourier Domain Optical Coherence Tomography for Applications in Developmental Biology

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Developmental biology is a field in which explorations are made to answer how an organism transforms from a single cell to a complex system made up of trillions of highly organized and highly specified cells. This field, however, is not just for discovery, it is crucial for unlocking factors that lead to diseases, defects, or malformations. The one key ingredient that contributes to the success of studies in developmental biology is the technology that is available for use. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is one such technology. OCT fills a niche between the high resolution of confocal microscopy and deep imaging penetration of ultrasound. Developmental studies of the chicken embryo heart are of great interest. Studies in mature hearts, zebrafish animal models, and to a more limited degree chicken embryos, indicate a relationship between blood flow and development. It is believed that at the earliest stages, when the heart is still a tube, the purpose of blood flow is not for convective transport of oxygen, nutrients and waster, bur rather to induce shear-related gene expressions to induce further development. Yet, to this date, the simple question of "what makes blood flow?" has not been answered. This is mainly due limited availability to adequate imaging and blood flow measurement tools. Earlier work has demonstrated the potential of OCT for use in studying chicken embryo heart development, however quantitative measurement techniques still needed to be developed. In this dissertation I present technological developments I have made towards building an OCT system to study chick embryo heart development. I will describe: 1) a swept-source OCT with extended imaging depth; 2) a spectral domain OCT system for non-invasive small animal imaging; 3) Doppler flow imaging and techniques for quantitative blood flow measurement in living chicken embryos; and 4) application of the OCT system that was developed in the Specific Aims 2-5 to test hypotheses generated by a finite element model which treats the embryonic chick heart tube as a modified peristaltic pump.





Davis, Anjul M. (2008). Development of Fourier Domain Optical Coherence Tomography for Applications in Developmental Biology. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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