Estimation of the mechanical properties of soft tissues using a laser-induced microbubble interrogated by acoustic radiation force
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This dissertation introduces a new approach to measure the mechanical properties of soft tissues. A laser-induced microbubble, created by focusing a single nanosecond laser pulse with a custom-made objective lens, was created at desired locations inside a tissue sample. An acoustic radiation force was generated by a low frequency transducer to displace the microbubble. A custom-built high pulse repetition frequency (PRF) ultrasound system, consisting of two 25 MHz single element transducers, was used to track the dynamics of the microbubble. Reconstruction of the mechanical properties at the specific location in a tissue sample was performed using a theoretical model, which calculated the dynamics of a microbubble under an externally applied force in a viscoelastic medium. The theoretical model and the high PRF ultrasound system were successfully validated in both gelatin phantoms and ex vivo bovine crystalline lenses. Age-related sclerosis of the crystalline lenses from bovine was clearly detected, which might be linked to changes in the crystalline. Location-dependent variation explained that the outer cortex and the inner nucleus had different mechanical properties. In the old and young porcine vitreous humors, age-related changes were not found. However, local variations of the mechanical properties were discovered, which may coincide with the different distributions of the molecular compositions. The laser-induced microbubble approach shows potential for future research into the origin of physiological phenomena and the development of inherent disorders in the eye. I hope that further studies – in the development of a more suitable theoretical model for the microbubble dynamics, in extension to in vivo applications, and in defining the relationship of the mechanical properties to molecular components in the eye – may provide a plan for the therapeutic treatment of eye-related diseases.