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Disease Markers
Volume 18, Issue 5-6, Pages 313-337

Near-Infrared Diffuse Optical Tomography

A. H. Hielscher,1 A. Y. Bluestone,1,2 G. S. Abdoulaev,1 A. D. Klose,1 J. Lasker,1 M. Stewart,2 U. Netz,3 and J. Beuthan3

1Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
2Departments of Pathology and Physiology and Pharmacology, SUNY – Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA
3Institut für Medizinische Physik und Lasermedizin, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Received 17 November 2003; Accepted 17 November 2003

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Diffuse optical tomography (DOT) is emerging as a viable new biomedical imaging modality. Using near-infrared (NIR) light, this technique probes absorption as well as scattering properties of biological tissues. First commercial instruments are now available that allow users to obtain cross-sectional and volumetric views of various body parts. Currently, the main applications are brain, breast, limb, joint, and fluorescence/bioluminescence imaging. Although the spatial resolution is limited when compared with other imaging modalities, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or X-ray computerized tomography (CT), DOT provides access to a variety of physiological parameters that otherwise are not accessible, including sub-second imaging of hemodynamics and other fast-changing processes. Furthermore, DOT can be realized in compact, portable instrumentation that allows for bedside monitoring at relatively low cost. In this paper, we present an overview of current state-of-the -art technology, including hardware and image-reconstruction algorithms, and focus on applications in brain and joint imaging. In addition, we present recent results of work on optical tomographic imaging in small animals.