Abstract

When a picosecond light pulse is incident upon a turbid medium such as tissue, the temporal distribution of diffusely reflected and transmitted photons depends on the optical absorption and scattering properties of the medium. From diffusion theory it is possible to derive analytic expressions for the pulse shape in terms of the optical interaction coefficients of a homogeneous semi-infinite medium. Experimental tests of this simple model in tissue-simulating liquid phantoms of different geometries are presented here. The results of these tests show that, in a semi-infinite phantom, the application of the diffusion model provides estimates of the absorption and transport-scattering coefficients that are accurate to better than 10%. Comparable accuracy was also obtained with this simple model for finite slab, cylindrical, and spherical volumes as long as the objects were of sufficient size. For smaller volumes the absorption coefficient was overestimated because of the significant loss of photons at the boundaries of the object.

© 1992 Optical Society of America

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