Frequency-domain optical imaging systems have shown great promise for characterizing blood oxygenation, hemodynamics, and other physiological parameters in human and animal tissues. However, most of the frequency domain systems presented so far operate with source modulation frequencies below 150 MHz. At these low frequencies, their ability to provide accurate data for small tissue geometries such as encountered in imaging of finger joints or rodents is limited. Here, we present a new system that can provide data up to 1 GHz using an intensity modulated charged coupled device camera. After data processing, the images show the two-dimensional distribution of amplitude and phase of the light modulation on the finger surface. The system performance was investigated and test measurements on optical tissue phantoms were taken to investigate whether higher frequencies yield better signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs). It could be shown that local changes in optical tissue properties, as they appear in the initial stages of rheumatoid arthritis in a finger joint, are detectable by simple image evaluation, with the range of modulation frequency around 500 MHz proving to yield the highest SNR.
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