Raman Spectroscopy has become an important technique for assessing the composition of excised sections of bone, and is currently being developed as an in vivo tool for transcutaneous detection of bone disease using spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS). The sampling volume of the Raman technique (and thus the amount of bone material interrogated by SORS) depends on the nature of the photon scattering in the probed tissue. Bone is a complex hierarchical material and to date little is known regarding its diffuse scattering properties which are important for the development and optimization of SORS as a diagnostic tool for characterizing bone disease in vivo. SORS measurements at 830 nm excitation wavelength are carried out on stratified samples to determine the depth from which the Raman signal originates within bone tissue. The measurements are made using a 0.38 mm thin Teflon slice, to give a pronounced and defined spectral signature, inserted in between layers of stacked 0.60 mm thin equine bone slices. Comparing the stack of bone slices with and without underlying bone section below the Teflon slice illustrated that thin sections of bone can lose appreciable number of photons through the unilluminated back surface. The results show that larger SORS offsets lead to progressively larger penetration depth into the sample; different Raman spectral signatures could be retrieved through up to 3.9 mm of overlying bone material with a 7 mm offset. These findings have direct impact on potential diagnostic medical applications; for instance on the detection of bone tumors or areas of infected bone.
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