Quantitative lateral and axial flow imaging with optical coherence microscopy and tomography
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) and optical coherence microscopy (OCM) allow the acquisition of quantitative three-dimensional axial flow by estimating the Doppler shift caused by moving scatterers. Measuring the velocity of red blood cells is currently the principal application of these methods. In many biological tissues, blood flow is often perpendicular to the optical axis, creating the need for a quantitative measurement of lateral flow. Previous work has shown that lateral flow can be measured from the Doppler bandwidth, albeit only for simplified optical systems. In this work, we present a generalized model to analyze the influence of relevant OCT/OCM system parameters such as light source spectrum, numerical aperture and beam geometry on the Doppler spectrum. Our analysis results in a general framework relating the mean and variance of the Doppler frequency to the axial and lateral flow velocity components. Based on this model, we present an optimized acquisition protocol and algorithm to reconstruct quantitative measurements of lateral and axial flow from the Doppler spectrum for any given OCT/OCM system. To validate this approach, Doppler spectrum analysis is employed to quantitatively measure flow in a capillary with both extended focus OCM and OCT.