Abstract

The Mueller matrix describes all the polarizing properties of a sample and, therefore, the optical differences between noncancerous and precancerous tissue that may be present within the matrix elements. A high-speed polarimetry system that generates 16 (4×4) full Mueller matrices to characterize tissues is presented. Feature extraction is done on the Mueller matrix elements resulting in depolarization and retardance images by polar decomposition. These are used to detect and classify early oral cancers and precancerous changes in epithelium such as dysplasia. These images are compared with orthogonal polarization images and analyzed in an attempt to identity useful factors for the differentiation between cancerous lesions and their benign counterparts. Our results indicate that polarimetry has potential as a method for the in vivo early detection and diagnosis of oral premalignancy.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

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