We have measured the optical absorption and scattering coefficient spectra of a multiple-scattering medium (i.e., a biological tissue-simulating phantom comprising a lipid colloid) containing methemoglobin by using frequency-domain techniques. The methemoglobin absorption spectrum determined in the multiple-scattering medium is in excellent agreement with a corrected methemoglobin absorption spectrum obtained from a steady-state spectrophotometer measurement of the optical density of a minimally scattering medium. The determination of the corrected methemoglobin absorption spectrum takes into account the scattering from impurities in the methemoglobin solution containing no lipid colloid. Frequency-domain techniques allow for the separation of the absorbing from the scattering properties of multiple-scattering media, and these techniques thus provide an absolute measurement of the optical absorption spectra of the methemoglobin/lipid colloid suspension. One accurately determines the absolute methemoglobin absorption spectrum in the frequency domain by extracting the scattering and absorption coefficients from the phase shift Φ and average light intensity DC (or Φ and the amplitude of the light-intensity oscillations AC) data with relationships provided by diffusion theory, but one determines it less accurately by using the Φ and modulation M (M ≡ AC/DC) data and the diffusion theory relationships. In addition to the greater uncertainty in the absorption and scattering coefficients extracted from the Φ and M data, the optical parameters extracted from the Φ and M data exhibit systematically inaccurate behavior that cannot be explained by random noise in the system. Possible reasons for the systematically lower accuracy of the methemoglobin absorption spectrum obtained from Φ and M data are discussed.
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