We describe a method that combines fluorescence molecular tomography (FMT) with diffuse optical tomography (DOT), which allows us to study the impact of heterogeneous optical property distribution on FMT, an issue that has not been systemically studied. Both numerical simulations and phantom experiments were performed based on our finite-element reconstruction algorithms. The experiments were conducted using a noncontact optical fiber free, multiangle transmission system. In both the simulations and experiments, a fluorescent target was embedded in an optically heterogeneous background medium. The simulation results clearly suggest the necessity of considering the absorption coefficient () and reduced scattering coefficient () distributions for quantitatively accurate FMT, especially in terms of the accuracy of reconstructed fluorophore absorption coefficient (). Subsequent phantom experiments with an indocyanine green (ICG)-containing target confirm the simulation findings. In addition, we performed a series of phantom experiments with low ICG concentration (0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.6 and ) in the target to systematically evaluate the quantitative accuracy of our FMT approach. The results indicate that, with the knowledge of optical property distribution, the accuracy of the recovered fluorophore concentration is improved significantly over that without such a priori information. In particular absolute value of from our DOT guided FMT are quantitatively consistent with that obtained using spectroscopic methods.
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