Noncontact optical imaging of brain hemodynamics in preterm infants: A preliminary study

Elie G. Abu Jawdeh, Chong Huang, Siavash Mazdeyasna, Lei Chen, Li Chen, Henrietta S. Bada, Guoqiang Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Extremely preterm infants' hemodynamic instability places them at high risk of brain injury. Currently there is no reliable bedside method to continuously monitor cerebral hemodynamics in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This paper reports a feasibility study to adapt and test an innovative speckle contrast diffuse correlation tomography (scDCT) device for noncontact, high-density, 3D imaging of cerebral blood flow (CBF) in preterm infants. The scDCT scans a focused point near-infrared illumination to multiple source positions for deep tissue penetration, and controls an electron multiplying charge-coupled-device camera with thousands of pixels to achieve a high-density sampling. The optimized scDCT for use in preterm infants was first evaluated against an established diffuse correlation spectroscopy in an infant-head-simulating phantom with known properties. The observed significant correlation between the two measurements verified the capability of scDCT for transcranial brain imaging. The insignificant influence of transparent incubator wall on scDCT measurements was then confirmed by comparing adult forearm blood flow responses to artery cuff occlusions measured inside and outside the incubator. Finally, the scDCT device was moved to the NICU to image CBF variations in two preterm infants. Infant #1 with no major organ deficits showed little CBF fluctuation over the first 3 weeks of life. Infant #2 showed a significant CBF increase after the 2 h pharmacotherapy for patent ductus arteriosus closure. While these CBF variations meet physiological expectations, the fact that no significant changes are noted with peripheral monitoring of blood oxygen saturation suggests necessity of direct cerebral monitoring. This feasibility study with timely technology development is an important and necessary step towards larger clinical studies with more subjects to further validate it for continuous monitoring and instant management of cerebral pathologies and interventions in the NICU.

Original languageEnglish
Article number245009
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 21 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the National Institute of Health (R21-HD091118, R01-HD101508, R01-AG062480, R01-EB028792, and R56-NS117587) and National Science Foundation (EPSCoR#1539068). We thank the support of the NICU research staff and nurses at University of Kentucky.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.


  • brain
  • cerebral blood flow
  • diffuse optics
  • imaging
  • preterm infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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