Hypercholesterolemia is characterized by high blood levels of cholesterol and is associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Xanthelasma is a subcutaneous lesion appearing in the skin around the eyes. Xanthelasma is related to hypercholesterolemia. Identifying micro-xanthelasma can thereforeprovide a mean for early detection of hypercholesterolemia and prevent onset and progress of disease.

The goal of this study was to investigate spectral and spatial characteristics of hypercholesterolemia in facial skin. Optical techniques like hyperspectral imaging (HSI) might be a suitable tool for such characterization as it simultaneously provides high resolution spatial and spectral information.

In this study a 3D Monte Carlo model of lipid inclusions in human skin was developed to create hyperspectral images in the spectral range 400-1090 nm. Four lesions with diameters 0.12–1.0 mm were simulated for three different skin types. The simulations were analyzed using three algorithms: the Tissue Indices (TI), the two layer Diffusion Approximation (DA), and the Minimum Noise Fraction transform (MNF). The simulated lesions were detected by all methods, but the best performance was obtained by the MNF algorithm.

The results were verified using data from 11 volunteers with known cholesterol levels. The face of the volunteers was imaged by a LCTF system (400- 720 nm), and the images were analyzed using the previously mentioned algorithms. The identified features were then compared to the known cholesterol levels of the subjects. Significant correlation was obtained for the MNF algorithm only. This study demonstrates that HSI can be a promising, rapid modality for detection of hypercholesterolemia.

© 2015 SPIE

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