The feasibility of employing fluorescent contrast agents to perform optical imaging in tissues and other scattering media has been examined through computational studies. Fluorescence lifetime and yield can give crucial information about local metabolite concentrations or environmental conditions within tissues. This information can be employed toward disease detection, diagnosis, and treatment if noninvasively quantitated from reemitted optical signals. However, the problem of inverse image reconstruction of fluorescence yield and lifetime is complicated because of the highly scattering nature of the tissue. Here a light propagation model employing the diffusion equation is used to account for the scattering of both the excitation and fluorescent light. Simulated measurements of frequency-domain parameters of fluorescent modulated ac amplitude and phase lag are used as inputs to an inverse image-reconstruction algorithm, which employs the diffusion model to predict frequency-domain measurements resulting from a modulated input at the phantom periphery. In the inverse image-reconstruction algorithm, a Newton–Raphson technique combined with a Marquardt algorithm is employed to converge on the fluorescent properties within the medium. The successful reconstruction of both the fluorescence yield and lifetime in the case of a heterogeneous fluorophore distribution within a scattering medium has been demonstrated without a priori information or without the necessity of obtaining absence images.
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