Abstract

Optical tomography of small imaging domains holds great promise as the signal-to-noise ratio is usually high, and the achievable spatial resolution is much better than in large imaging domains. Emerging applications range from the imaging of joint diseases in human fingers to monitoring tumor growth or brain activity in small animals. In these cases, the diameter of the tissue under investigation is typically smaller than 3 cm, and the optical path length is only a few scattering mean-free paths. It is well known that under these conditions the widely applied diffusion approximation to the equation of radiative transfer (ERT) is of limited applicability. To accurately model light propagation in these small domains, the ERT has to be solved directly. We use the frequency-domain ERT to perform a sensitivity study for small imaging domains. We found optimal source-modulation frequencies for which variations in optical properties, size, and location of a tissue inhomogeneity lead to maximal changes in the amplitude and phase of the measured signal. These results will be useful in the design of experiments and optical tomographic imaging systems that probe small tissue volumes.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

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