Optical tomography with the equation of radiative transfer

Alexander D. Klose, Andreas H. Hielscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - This paper sets out to give an overview about state-of-the-art optical tomographic image reconstruction algorithms that are based on the equation of radiative transfer (ERT). Design/methodology/approach - An objective function, which describes the discrepancy between measured and numerically predicted light intensity data on the tissue surface, is iteratively minimized to find the unknown spatial distribution of the optical parameters or sources. At each iteration step, the predicted partial current is calculated by a forward model for light propagation based on the ERT. The equation of radiative is solved with either finite difference or finite volume methods. Findings - Tomographic reconstruction algorithms based on the ERT accurately recover the spatial distribution of optical tissue properties and light sources in biological tissue. These tissues either can have small geometries/large absorption coefficients, or can contain void-like inclusions. Originality/value - These image reconstruction methods can be employed in small animal imaging for monitoring blood oxygenation, in imaging of tumor growth, in molecular imaging of fluorescent and bioluminescent probes, in imaging of human finger joints for early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, and in functional brain imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-464
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat and Fluid Flow
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2008


  • Body systems and organs
  • Finite element analysis
  • Image processing
  • Radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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