Diseases of lung tissue and the airways become a major task for medical care and health care systems in modern industrial countries in the future. Suitable treatment methods and strategies for lung support and artificial ventilation are of dare need. Besides the obvious importance as life-saving intervention, the effects of usually used over-pressure ventilation onto the sensitive alveolar tissue are insufficiently understood. Therefore, it is of great interest to characterize lung tissue during artificial ventilation at the alveolar level. Those measurements can be used to link micromechanics of alveolar structures to mechanical properties of the whole lung like compliance and resistance measured at the ventilator device. This can be done only in animal experiments due to the fact that imaging techniques used in human diagnostics like CT or MRT fail to resolve alveolar tissue structures. The disadvantage of high-resolution techniques like optical coherence tomography (OCT) or intravital microscopy (IVM) is the need of a surgical access to the lung due to the limitation in penetration depth of these techniques. Furthermore, imaging dynamic processes with high-resolution imaging techniques during uninterrupted artificial ventilation is a challenging task. In this study, we present a measurement setup for combined imaging of conventional pressure-controlled ventilated rats and the visualization of volume changes of alveolar structures during one cycle of breath. A custom-made OCT system in combination with a triggered scanning algorithm was used to acquire time-resolved 3D OCT image data. Furthermore, this system was combined with a self-adapting autofocus function for intravital microscopy to track the lung surface keeping the tissue in focal plane. The combination of new dynamic measurement modes for OCT and IVM allows new insights into alveolar tissue and will promote the understanding of mechanical behavior during artificial ventilation.
©2017 Christian Schnabel et al., published by De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston
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