Uniform enhancement of optical micro-angiography images using rayleigh contrast-limited adaptive histogram equalization

Siavash Yousefi, Jia Qin, Zhongwei Zhi, Ruikang K. Wang


Optical microangiography is an imaging technology that is capable of providing detailed functional blood flow maps within microcirculatory tissue beds in vivo. Some practical issues however exist when displaying and quantifying the microcirculation that perfuses the scanned tissue volume. These issues include: (I) Probing light is subject to specular reflection when it shines onto sample. The unevenness of the tissue surface makes the light energy entering the tissue not uniform over the entire scanned tissue volume. (II) The biological tissue is heterogeneous in nature, meaning the scattering and absorption properties of tissue would attenuate the probe beam. These physical limitations can result in local contrast degradation and non-uniform micro-angiogram images. In this paper, we propose a post-processing method that uses Rayleigh contrast-limited adaptive histogram equalization to increase the contrast and improve the overall appearance and uniformity of optical micro-angiograms without saturating the vessel intensity and changing the physical meaning of the micro-angiograms. The qualitative and quantitative performance of the proposed method is compared with those of common histogram equalization and contrast enhancement methods. We demonstrate that the proposed method outperforms other existing approaches. The proposed method is not limited to optical microangiography and can be used in other image modalities such as photo-acoustic tomography and scanning laser confocal microscopy.