Accurate numerical simulations based on rigorous radiative transfer theory are used to assess the validity of the diffusion approximation that is frequently used in bio-optical imaging. These simulations show that the error is large for a non-index-matched boundary between air and tissue. This weakness of the diffusion approximation underscores the need to understand how diffusion theory can be used to extract accurate values of tissue optical properties. A validity criterion for the diffusion approximation is established on the basis of the single-scattering albedo a and the asymmetry factor g for a slab with index-matched boundaries.
© 2001 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: November 1, 2000
Revised Manuscript: April 23, 2001
Published: December 1, 2001
Bingquan Chen, Knut Stamnes, and Jakob J. Stamnes, "Validity of the diffusion approximation in bio-optical imaging," Appl. Opt. 40, 6356-6366 (2001)