The accuracy of the diffusion approximation is compared with more accurate solutions for describing light interaction with biological tissues. Generally the diffusion approximation underestimates the light distribution in the surface region, and, for high albedos, it significantly underestimates the fluence rate. This difference is only a few percent for albedos of less than 0.5 due to the dominance of collimated light. As the anisotropy of scattering increases, deviations increase. In general, fluxes can be computed more accurately with the diffusion approximation than fluence rates. For anisotropic scattering, better results can be obtained by simple transforms of optical coefficients using the similarity relations. The similarity relations improve flux calculations, but computed fluence rates have substantial errors for high albedo and the large index of refraction differences at the surface.
© 1989 Optical Society of America
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