To support the translation of Raman spectroscopy into clinical applications, synthetic models are needed to accurately test, optimize and validate prototype fiber optic instrumentation. Synthetic models (also called tissue phantoms) are widely used for developing and testing optical instrumentation for diffuse reflectance, fluorescence, and Raman spectroscopies. While existing tissue phantoms accurately model tissue optical scattering and absorption, they do not typically model the anatomic shapes and chemical composition of tissue. Because Raman spectroscopy is sensitive to molecular composition, Raman tissue phantoms should also approximate the bulk tissue composition. We describe the fabrication and characterization of tissue phantoms for Raman tomography and spectroscopy. These phantoms have controlled chemical and optical properties, and also multilayer morphologies which approximate the appropriate anatomic shapes. Tissue phantoms were fabricated to support on-going Raman studies by simulating the human wrist and rat leg. Surface meshes (triangle patch models) were generated from computed tomography (CT) images of a human arm and rat leg. Rapid prototyping was used to print mold templates with complex geometric patterns. Plastic casting techniques used for movie special effects were adapted to fabricate molds from the rapid prototypes, and finally to cast multilayer gelatin tissue phantoms. The gelatin base was enriched with additives to model the approximate chemistry and optical properties of individual tissue layers. Additional studies were performed to determine optimal casting conditions, phantom stability, layer delamination and chemical diffusion between layers. Recovery of diffuse reflectance and Raman spectra in tissue phantoms varied with probe placement. These phantoms enable optimization of probe placement for human or rat studies. These multilayer tissue phantoms with complex geometries are shown to be stable, with minimal layer delamination and chemical diffusion.
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