Journal of Public Health International

Journal of Public Health International

Journal of Public Health International

Current Issue Volume No: 1 Issue No: 2

Editorial Open Access Available online freely Peer Reviewed Citation

Diffuse Optical Imaging: Safe and Functional Medical Imaging Technique

1Department of Engineering Applications of Laser, National Institute of Laser Enhanced Sciences (NILES), Cairo University, Giza Governorate 12613, Egypt

2Department of Basic Sciences, Faculty of Engineering, Benha University, Qalubiya Governorate 13511, Egypt

3Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, King Faisal University, Al-Ahsa 31982, Saudi Arabia


Optical imaging method provides safe and encouraging tool in many medical applications. In this editorial, principle operation, instrumentation, medical applications and advantages of diffuse optical imaging technique are presented and discussed.

Author Contributions
Received 30 Jun 2018; Accepted 01 Aug 2018; Published 01 Aug 2018;

Academic Editor: Qiang Cheng, Biomedical Informatics Institute, and Computer Science Department

Checked for plagiarism: Yes

Review by: Single-blind

Copyright ©  2018 Omnia Hamdy, et al.

Creative Commons License     This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Competing interests

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Omnia Hamdy, Mahmoud F. Hassan, Nahed H. Solouma (2018) Diffuse Optical Imaging: Safe and Functional Medical Imaging Technique. Journal of Public Health International - 1(2):1-4.

Download as RIS, BibTeX, Text (Include abstract )

DOI 10.14302/issn.2641-4538.jphi-18-2190


Diffuse Optical Imaging technique or shortly “DOI” provides a spatial distribution of tissue optical properties and related physiological parameters, the tissue is probed with light and the transmitted light distribution on the tissue surface is measured. The measured data then become an input to a model-based iterative image reconstruction scheme 1.

It is called diffuse because the light propagates diffusely through any turbid medium such as biological tissues due to the effect of multiple and denes scattering property 2.The technique utilizes light in the red and near infrared spectral range to measure tissue physiology non-invasively due to its high penetration depth in biological tissues at that region 3.

To apply the diffusion model, light is detected at predetermined distances from the sources (source-detector pairs). Light can be detected in either reflection or transmission geometry through a section of thick tissue 4, 5. The measured tissue optical parameters which are absorption coefficient, scattering coefficient and anisotropy are highly related to important physiological changes in tissues like hemoglobin and melanin concentrations and tissue water content as well.

Instrumentations for DOI

According to the type of light source used in imaging, diffuse optical imaging device can be divided into three categories; steady state or continues wave (CW), time-domain, and frequency domain FD imaging. Frequency domain technique can be classified to frequency domain photon migration FDPM or spatial frequency domain imaging SFDI 6. Each technique has its benefit, the CW technique is considered inexpensive, fast and commercially accessible, it can be useful for measuring relative changes in tissue chromophores, however, this method can’t directly separate absorption from scattering measurements without utilizing a suitable mathematical model.

In time- domain (or time-resolved) techniques pulses of light are delivered to the sample and time gated and/or single photon counting detectors are used to measure the attenuation of the source pulse after propagation through the tissue, an analysis of the detected signal (temporal point spread function, t-PSF) can distinguish between tissue absorption and scattering 7. In time domain imaging, the source is a sharp temporally focused beam and after penetrating the tissue it would broaden in time, this broadening is on the order of a few ns and depending on the source detector separation as well as tissue absorption and scattering properties.

The frequency domain is analogue to the time domain; it is the Fourier transform of the time domain. In the frequency domain method the source wave are described by three main parameters; the average intensity (DC- component), an amplitude (AC-component) and frequency 8. The frequency domain method can also be used to predict tissue optical properties as the detected signals are related to the tissue absorption and scattering properties.

Frequency domain techniques are more complex but give more information about the medium; it has two types: frequency domain photon migration (FDPM) and spatial Frequency domain imaging (SFDI). In FDPM, the light source is intensity modulated at hundreds of MHz the intensity-modulated laser light creates photon density waves (PDWs) that propagate through the sample. A photo-detector samples the light some distance away from the source. Relative changes in amplitude and phase of the oscillating signal and the source light are measured which together provide an accurate estimation of the sample's optical properties 8.

In SFDI, patterns of light are projected onto the sample at different spatial frequencies and phases. The resulting reflectance is measured with extended, non-contact camera to measure the s-MTF. The detected signal is fit to a model of light propagation in turbid media such as Mont Carlo method 9. SFDI technique provides non-contact wide-field imaging of tissue absorption and scattering properties. Figure 1 presents a simple single source-detector pair configuration of DOI.

Figure 1.Single source-detector pair configuration of DOI in CW, TD, and FD methods.
 Single source-detector pair configuration of DOI in CW, TD, and FD methods.

Image Reconstruction for DOI

In DOI technique, to recover tissue optical parameters from the measurements of light propagation within tissue, model-based image reconstruction techniques are utilized including forward and inverse models 6.The collected data from source-detector pairs are employed to reconstruct images that represent optical absorption and scattering of the examined tissue, one wavelength at a time 10. This process is difficult and considered non-linear and ill-posed problem due to the diffuse and multiple scattering propagation of light in biological tissues.

Many alternative algorithms are employed to reconstruct images in DOI such as Newton-based, Broyden-based and adjoint Broyden-based iterative image reconstruction methods 11. Beecause the inverse problem is ill-posed, the regularization method has a great importance to improve resolution of the reconstructed images. Linear regularization, sparse regularization, Levenberg–Marquardt regularization and Tikhonov regularization are commonly implemented in DOI image reconstruction 12, 13.

Medical Applications of DOI

Diffuse optical imaging technique has been widely utilized in many medical researches and applications. It was employed to determine the light dose during photodynamic therapy treatment 14, 15. Moreover, DOI is used in breast cancer imaging and the technique is commonly called optical mammography, it is considered as a promising alternative for the existing imaging modalities for breast cancer screening including X-ray mammography and magnetic resonance imaging 16. FDPM imaging has the ability to probe the entire tissue volume of the human breast and give precise information about tissue chromophores and metabolism 3.

In the medical applications related to skin imaging, SFDI can be effectively applicable due to its shallow penetration depth, high lateral resolution and wild field imaging characteristics 17

SFDI technique is also applied in neurological imaging and brain function monitoring during brain injury, stroke 18, cortical spreading depression 9, and Alzheimer’s disease 20. In general, the various DOI techniques are most effective when dealing with heterogeneous tissues such as tumors, wounds and injuries in which the optical absorption and scattering properties differ from the healthy or normal tissue.


Diffuse optical imaging technique can be used to characterize biological tissues especially breast and brain tissues and predict some important information about tissue metabolism and many physiological changes in tissues, therefore, it can be employed in early detection of many abnormalities in tissue regarding blood contents or tissue oxygenation. It is a functional method that can significantly improve the medical diagnoses process of breast cancer and monitoring function activation of brain and muscles as well, it is also play and important role in wound healing and therapeutic drug monitoring.


  1. 1.Durduran T, Choe R, W B Baker, A G Yodh. (2010) Diffuse Optics for Tissue Monitoring and Tomography,”. Rep. Prog. Phys,no.076701 73, 1-43.
  1. 2.Tuchin V.V Tissue Optics: Light Scattering Methods and Instruments. in Medical Diagnosis, United States of America: SPIE,2007 .
  1. 3.T D O’Sullivan, A E Cerussi, D J Cuccia, B J Tromberg.Diffuse optical imaging using spatially and temporally modulated light”. , J. Biomed.Opt.2012,17
  1. 4.Hamdy O, El-Azab J, N H Solouma, Fathy M, T A AL-Saeed. (2016) The Use of Optical Fluence Rate Distribution for the Differentiation of Biological Tissues,". in 8th Cairo International Biomedical Engineering Conference (CIBEC) , Egypt .
  1. 5.Hamdy O, El-Azab J, T A AL-Saeed, Fathy M, N H Solouma. (2017) A Method for Medical Diagnosis Based on Optical Fluence Rate Distribution at Tissue Surface,". , Materials 10, 1104-13.
  1. 6.D A Boas, Pitris C, Ramanujam N. (2011) . , Hand Book of Biomedical Optics U.S:CRCPress.
  1. 7.Michael S, Patterson P, Wilson B. (1989) Time resolved reflectance and transmittance for the non-invasive measurement of tissue optical properties,”. , Applied Optics 28(12), 2331-2336.
  1. 8.L V Wang, Wu H-i. (2007) Biomedical Optics: Principles and Imaging. , Canada: WILEY-Interscience
  1. 9.D J Cuccia, Bevilacqua F, A J Durkin, F R Ayers, B J Tromberg. (2009) Quantitation and Mapping of Tissue Optical Properties using Modulated imaging,”. , J Biomed Opt 14(2), 1-31.
  1. 10.DEHGHANI H, SRINIVASAN S, B W POGUE, GIBSON A. (2009) Numerical modelling and image reconstruction in diffuse optical tomography,". , Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 367, 3073-3093.
  1. 11.S R Arridge, Schweiger M. (1997) Image Reconstruction in Optical Tomography,". , Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 352, 717-726.
  1. 12.K U, Sathiyamoorthy S, Lakshmi G. (2016) Numerical Solution for Image Reconstruction in DIiffuse. , Optical Tomography,” Asian Research Publishing Network (ARPN) 11(2), 1333-1336.
  1. 13.Wang B, Wang Y, Zhang Y, Zhao H, Gao F. (2016) Towards improved image reconstruction in breast diffuse optical tomography using compressed sensing: a comparative study among Lp (0≤p≤2) sparsity regularizations,". Proc. of SPIE 9700-970016.
  1. 14.Nilsson A M K, Berg R, Andersson-Engels S. (1995) Integrating Sphere Measurements of Tissue Optical Properties For Accurate Pdt Dosimetry”, Laser Interaction with Hard and Soft Tissue II. Proceedings of SPIE 2323, 47-57.
  1. 15.C Zhu Timothy, C Finlay Jarod, Stephen M Hahn. (2005) Determination of the distribution of light, optical properties, drug concentration, and tissue oxygenation in-vivo in human prostate during motexafin lutetium-mediated photodynamic therapy”. , J Photochem Photobiol B 29, 231-241.
  1. 16.Kijoon L. (2011) Optical mammography: Diffuse optical imaging of breast cancer”. , World J Clin Oncol 2, 64-72.
  1. 17.J R Weber, D J Cuccia, A J Durkin, B J Tromberg.Noncontact imaging of absorption and scattering in layered tissue using spatially modulated structured light,”. , J Appl Phys; 105(10), 102028-1.
  1. 18.Abookasis D, Lay C, Christopher S M Marlon, E L Mark, D F Ron et al. (2009) Imaging cortical absorption, scattering, and hemodynamic response during ischemic stroke using spatially modulated near-infrared illumination,”. , J. Biomed. Opt 14, 024033.
  1. 19.D J Cuccia. (2009) Quantitative in vivo imaging of tissue absorption, scattering, and hemoglobin concentration in rat cortex using spatially modulated structured light,” in. In Vivo Optical Imaging ofBrainFunction, RD Frostig Ed.,CRC Press , Boca Raton, Florida .
  1. 20.Lin A. (2011) Spatial frequency domain imaging of intrinsic optical property contrast in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease,”. , Ann. Biomed. Eng 39, 1349-1357.