Bone-Health Imaging

NIH Grant R01AR056646

Bone allografts are used to replace the tissue surgically removed in cases of osteosarcoma, a malignant bone tumor that forms during adolescence, and other bone cancers. The allografts are taken from the sterilized bone tissue of cadaveric donors, and sometimes fail to integrate into the healthy tissue once implanted. Currently, researchers from both Dartmouth and the University of Michigan Ann Arbor are working to develop noninvasive methods for examining the early success of these transplants using medical optics.

Jennifer Lynn-Demers, a doctoral student in Dartmouth’s Optics in Medicine Laboratory, is developing a noninvasive diffuse Raman tomographic methodology for evaluating the state of bone allografts in a rat model, and other problems in bone repair and healing. Based upon Raman scattering—the inelastic scattering of a photon discovered by Indian scientist Sir. C. V. Raman in 1923—Raman tomography is a method of optical imaging that examines a number of low-frequency modes in a system to analyze the vibrational properties of matter. While Demers’ research is based out of Hanover, she conducts part of this research with Professor Michael Morris at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

To develop a Raman-based imaging machine capable of analyzing bone structures, Jenn is using tomographic systems with Scott Davis, in the Optics in Medicine Laboratory.

The funding from NIH seeks to develop a new type of imaging technology that provides chemical-specific information. To develop this new imaging system, prototypes are tested on tissue phantoms and rat hind limbs that accurately simulate bone and tissue geometry. As these imaging technologies are created, new mathematical methodologies will also be developed to extract data sets from the remitted Raman-scattered light.

Currently, Demers’ Raman-based imaging machine is being calibrated on tissue phantoms and lab rats, and has not actually been used to analyze bone structures in vivo. However, when this machine is used in a clinical setting, it will provide practitioners with essential information regarding bone health in a non-invasive manner.