Motivated by a recent report by Dickey et al. [Phys. Med. Biol. 46, 2359 (2001)], who demonstrated optical property retrieval by using relative radiance measurements at a single position, we investigate the uniqueness of relative radiance measurements for quantifying the optical properties of turbid media by studying the solutions of the diffusion and P3 approximations of the Boltzmann transfer equation for a point source. Using the P3 approximation, we investigate the potential of radiance measurements for optical property recovery by examining the optical property response surface for point radiance information. We further derive first-order similarity relations for relative point radiance measurements and use these expressions to examine analytically the effects of noise on optical property retrieval over a wide range of optical properties typical of biological tissue. Finally, optimal experimental configurations are studied and explicit conditions for uniqueness derived that suggest potential strategies for improving optical property recovery. It is expected that point radiance measurements will prove valuable for both on-line treatment planning of minimally invasive laser therapies and optical characterization of tissues.
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