Spectroscopic photoacoustic imaging of cervical tissue composition in excised human samples.

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PLoS One


OBJECTIVE: Cervical remodeling is an important component in determining the pathway of parturition; therefore, assessing changes in cervical tissue composition may provide information about the cervix's status beyond the measurement of cervical length. Photoacoustic imaging is a non-invasive ultrasound-based technology that captures acoustic signals emitted by tissue components in response to laser pulses. This optical information allows for the determination of the collagen-to-water ratio (CWR). The purpose of this study was to compare the CWR evaluated by using spectroscopic photoacoustic (sPA) imaging in cervical samples obtained from pregnant and non-pregnant women.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study comprised cervical biopsies obtained at the time of hysterectomy (n = 8) and at the scheduled cesarean delivery in pregnant women at term who were not in labor (n = 8). The cervical CWR was analyzed using a fiber-optic light-delivery system integrated to an ultrasound probe. The photoacoustic signals were acquired within the range of wavelengths that cover the peak absorption of collagen and water. Differences in the CWR between cervical samples from pregnant and non-pregnant women were analyzed. Hematoxylin and eosin and Sirius Red stains were used to compare the collagen content of cervical samples in these two groups.

RESULTS: Eight cervix samples were obtained after hysterectomy, four from women ≤41 years of age and four from women ≥43 years of age; all cervical samples (n = 8) from pregnant women were obtained after 37 weeks of gestation at the time of cesarean section. The average CWR in cervical tissue samples from pregnant women was 18.7% (SD 7.5%), while in samples from non-pregnant women, it was 55.0% (SD 20.3%). There was a significantly higher CWR in the non-pregnant group compared to the pregnant group with a p-value

CONCLUSION: The proposed bimodal ultrasound and sPA imaging system can provide information on the biochemical composition of cervical tissue in pregnant and non-pregnant women. Photoacoustic imaging showed a higher collagen content in cervical samples from non-pregnant women as compared to those from pregnant women, which matched with the histological analysis. This novel imaging method envisions a new potential for a sensitive diagnostic tool in the evaluation of cervical tissue composition.





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