[OPTICAL REVIEW Vol. 10, No. 5 (2003) 415-421]
© 2003 The Optical Society of Japan

Comparing Diffusion Approximation with Radiation Transfer Analysis for Light Transport in Tissues

Zhixiong GUO*, Siew Kan WAN, Kyunghan KIM and Chakravarthi KOSARAJU

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854, U.S.A.

(Received February 14, 2003; Accepted June 5, 2003)

The diffusion model that is an approximation of the equation of radiation transfer is typically used to describe photon migration in scattering-dominant media. In general biological tissue is highly scattering and very weakly absorbing against near-infrared light, yet it is heterogeneous and may contain relatively highly absorbing or low-scattering regions. Here applicability of the diffusion approximation over the radiative transfer theory for describing ultrafast laser transport in biological tissues is numerically studied and investigated over different kinds of tissue conditions and geometries. Tissues having tumors of different sizes, locations and nature as well as dual-tumor and low-scattering conditions are considered. Radiation transfer analysis is taken as a comparison objective and it is initially proved to be accurate in benchmark comparisons with Monte Carlo simulation. The results predict systematically about the compatible conditions where and when we can use the diffusion approximation and the conditions in which the diffusion approximation may provide misleading results.

Key words: diffusion approximation, radiation transfer, numerical simulation, light propagation and transport, optical tomography, biomedical imaging

*Corresponding author. E-mail address: guo@jove.rutgers.edu