Chronic Brain Imaging Across a Transparent Nanocrystalline Yttria-Stabilized-Zirconia Cranial Implant.
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Repeated non-diffuse optical imaging of the brain is difficult. This is due to the fact that the cranial bone is highly scattering and thus a strong optical barrier. Repeated craniotomies increase the risk of complications and may disrupt the biological systems being imaged. We previously introduced a potential solution in the form of a transparent ceramic cranial implant called the Window to the Brain (WttB) implant. This implant is made of nanocrystalline Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia (nc-YSZ), which possesses the requisite mechanical strength to serve as a permanent optical access window in human patients. In this present study, we demonstrate repeated brain imaging of n = 5 mice using both OCT and LSI across the WttB implant over 4 weeks. The main objectives are to determine if the WttB implant allows for chronic OCT imaging, and to shed further light on the question of whether optical access provided by the WttB implant remains stable over this duration in the body. The Window to the Brain implant allowed for stable repeated imaging of the mouse brain with Optical Coherence Tomography over 28 days, without loss of signal intensity. Repeated Laser Speckle Imaging was also possible over this timeframe, but signal to noise ratio and the sharpness of vessels in the images decreased with time. This can be partially explained by elevated blood flow during the first imaging session in response to trauma from the surgery, which was also detected by OCT flow imaging. These results are promising for long-term optical access through the WttB implant, making feasible chronic in vivo studies in multiple neurological models of brain disease.