Single-Sided Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) for the Analysis of Skin Thickness and Collagen Structure in Scarred and Healthy Skin

Ella R. Shilliday, Brenda Lam, Jingsi Chen, Mark Fear, Michael L. Johns, Paul L. Stanwix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Monitoring of skin scar thickness and structural properties is desirable when assessing the efficacy of the healing process. In this work, we report the use of single-sided, low-field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) for the analysis of the thickness and collagen structure of healthy and scarred skin. Acquisition of T 2 relaxation profiles was proven to provide quantification of porcine skin thickness as accurate as standard histological techniques. Subsequent analysis of human participants highlighted the utility of this technique for identifying different types of scar and in identifying differences between the thickness of moderate hypertrophic scars and healthy skin. Using bead packings as a model system, determination of the surface-to-volume (S/V) ratio and tortuosity (k) was successfully measured on the single-sided apparatus based on time-resolved diffusion analysis. Application of this method to human skin was able to detect regional differences in collagen structures, consistent with qualitative expectations. It was also able to differentiate between healthy and scarred skin tissue. Preliminary results indicated that scarred tissue exhibited decreased S/V ratios and tortuosities, which is coherent with the formation of less-aligned collagen within scar tissue and indicated the potential for this technique to differentiate scar types. This novel application of single-sided low-field NMR has the potential to be deployed in clinical settings for the differentiation of scar types and for the assessment and monitoring of skin scarring and healing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1348
Number of pages20
JournalApplied Magnetic Resonance
Issue number11-12
Early online date10 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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