We demonstrate cross-sectional birefringence- and polarization-independent backscatter imaging of laser-induced thermal damage in porcine myocardium <i>in vitro</i>, using a polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography system. We compare the generated images with histological sections of the tissue and demonstrate that birefringence is a more sensitive indicator of thermal damage than is backscattered light. Loss of birefringence in thermally damaged regions is quantified and shown to have significant contrast with undamaged sections of the tissue. A detailed theoretical analysis of the birefringence measurements is provided, including a calculation of the systematic errors associated with background noise, system imperfections, and tissue dichroism.
© 1998 Optical Society of America
(170.3880) Medical optics and biotechnology : Medical and biological imaging
(170.4500) Medical optics and biotechnology : Optical coherence tomography
(170.4580) Medical optics and biotechnology : Optical diagnostics for medicine
(170.4730) Medical optics and biotechnology : Optical pathology
Klaus Schoenenberger, Bill W. Colston, Duncan J. Maitland, Luiz B. Da Silva, and Matthew J. Everett, "Mapping of Birefringence and Thermal Damage in Tissue by use of Polarization-Sensitive Optical Coherence Tomography," Appl. Opt. 37, 6026-6036 (1998)