Abstract

We have developed a new theoretical description of the optical coherence tomography (OCT) technique for imaging in highly scattering tissue. The description is based on the extended Huygens–Fresnel principle, valid in both the single- and multiple-scattering regimes. The so-called shower curtain effect, which manifests itself in a standard OCT system, is an inherent property of the present theory. We demonstrate that the shower curtain effect leads to a strong increase in the heterodyne signal in a standard OCT system. This is in contrast to previous OCT models, where the shower curtain effect was not taken into account. The theoretical analysis is verified by measurements on samples consisting of aqueous suspensions of microspheres. Finally, we discuss the use of our new theoretical model for optimization of the OCT system.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

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