Analysis of friction in quantitative micro-elastography

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Quantitative micro-elastography (QME) is a compression-based optical coherence elastography technique capable of measuring the mechanical properties of tissue on the micro-scale. As QME requires contact between the imaging window and the sample, the presence of friction affects the accuracy of the estimated elasticity. In previous implementations, a lubricant was applied at the contact surfaces, which was assumed to result in negligible friction. However, recently, errors in the estimation of elasticity caused by friction have been reported. This effect has yet to be characterized and is, therefore, not well understood. In this work, we present a systematic analysis of friction in QME using silicone phantoms. We demonstrate that friction, and, therefore, the elasticity accuracy, is influenced by several experimental factors, including the viscosity of the lubricant, the mechanical contrast between the compliant layer and the sample, and the time after the application of a compressive strain. Elasticity errors over an order of magnitude were observed in the absence of appropriate lubrication when compared to uniaxial compression testing. Using an optimized lubrication protocol, we demonstrate accurate elasticity estimation (<10% error) for nonlinear elastic samples with Young’s moduli ranging from 3 kPa to 130 kPa. Finally, using a structured phantom, we demonstrate that friction can significantly reduce mechanical contrast in QME. We believe that the framework established in this study will facilitate more robust elasticity estimations in QME, as well as being readily adapted to understand the effects of friction in other contact elastography techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5127-5147
Number of pages21
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023

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