The development of near-infrared fluorescent contrast agents and imaging techniques depends on the deep penetration of excitation light through several centimeters of tissue and the sensitive collection of the re-emitted fluorescence. In this contribution, the sensitivity and depth penetration of various fluorescence-enhanced imaging studies is surveyed and compared with current studies using continuous wave (CW) and frequency-domain photon migration (FDPM) measurements with planar wave illumination of modulated excitation light at 100 MHz and area collection of reemitted fluorescent light using a previously developed modulated intensified charge-coupled device camera system. Fluorescence was generated from nanomolar to micromolar solutions of indocyanine green (ICG) in a 100 μL volume submerged at 1–4 cm depths in a 1% Liposyn® solution to mimic tissue scattering properties. Enhanced depth penetration and sensitivity are achieved with optimal filter rejection of excitation light, and FDPM rejection of background light is not achieved using CW methods. We show the ability to detect as few as 100 fmol of ICG from area illumination of 785 nm light (5.5 mW/cm2) and FDPM area collection of 830 nm fluorescent light generated from 3 cm below the phantom surface. The lowered noise floor of FDPM measurements enables greater sensitivity and penetration depth than comparable CW measurements.
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Vol. 77 • No. 4