Frequency-domain optical absorption spectroscopy of finite tissue volumes using diffusion theory
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The goal of frequency-domain optical absorption spectroscopy is the non-invasive determination of the absorption coefficient of a specific tissue volume. Since this allows the concentration of endogenous and exogenous chromophores to be calculated, there is considerable potential for clinical application. The technique relies on the measurement of the phase and modulation of light, which is diffusely reflected or transmitted by the tissue when it is illuminated by an intensity-modulated source. A model of light propagation must then be used to deduce the absorption coefficient. For simplicity, it is usual to assume the tissue is either infinite in extent (for transmission measurements) or semi-infinite (for reflectance measurements). The goal of this paper is to examine the errors introduced by these assumptions when measurements are actually performed on finite volumes. Diffusion-theory calculations and experimental measurements were performed for slabs, cylinders and spheres with optical properties characteristic of soft tissues in the near infrared. The error in absorption coefficient is presented as a function of object size as a guideline to when the simple models may be used. For transmission measurements, the error is almost independent of the true absorption coefficient, which allows absolute changes in absorption to be measured accurately. The implications of these errors in absorption coefficient for two clinical problems--quantitation of an exogenous photosensitizer and measurement of haemoglobin oxygenation--are presented and discussed.
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