Multispectral imaging of nailfold capillaries using light-emitting diode illumination

Michaela Taylor-Williams, Stephen Mead, Travis W. Sawyer, Lina Hacker, Calum Williams, Michael Berks, Andrea Murray, Sarah E. Bohndiek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Significance: The capillaries are the smallest blood vessels in the body, typically imaged using video capillaroscopy to aid diagnosis of connective tissue diseases, such as systemic sclerosis. Video capillaroscopy allows visualization of morphological changes in the nailfold capillaries but does not provide any physiological information about the blood contained within the capillary network. Extracting parameters such as hemoglobin oxygenation could increase sensitivity for diagnosis and measurement of microvascular disease progression. Aim: To design, construct, and test a low-cost multispectral imaging (MSI) system using lightemitting diode (LED) illumination to assess relative hemoglobin oxygenation in the nailfold capillaries. Approach: An LED ring light was first designed and modeled. The ring light was fabricated using four commercially available LED colors and a custom-designed printed circuit board. The experimental system was characterized and results compared with the illumination model. A blood phantom with variable oxygenation was used to determine the feasibility of using the illumination-based MSI system for oximetry. Nailfold capillaries were then imaged in a healthy subject. Results: The illumination modeling results were in close agreement with the constructed system. Imaging of the blood phantom demonstrated sensitivity to changing hemoglobin oxygenation, which was in line with the spectral modeling of reflection. The morphological properties of the volunteer capillaries were comparable to those measured in current gold standard systems. Conclusions: LED-based illumination could be used as a low-cost approach to enable MSI of the nailfold capillaries to provide insight into the oxygenation of the blood contained within the capillary network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126002
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022


  • hemoglobin
  • illumination modeling
  • light-emitting diode (LED)
  • multispectral imaging
  • nailfold capillaroscopy
  • oximetry
  • phantom
  • spectral modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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