Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing

, Volume 53, Issue 9, pp 805–814 | Cite as

Performance investigation of SP3 and diffusion approximation for three-dimensional whole-body optical imaging of small animals

  • Defu Yang
  • Xueli ChenEmail author
  • Xu Cao
  • Jing Wang
  • Jimin Liang
  • Jie Tian
Original Article


The third-order simplified harmonic spherical approximation (SP3) and diffusion approximation (DA) equations have been widely used in the three-dimensional (3D) whole-body optical imaging of small animals. With different types of tissues, which were classified by the ratio of µ s′/µ ɑ, the two equations have their own application scopes. However, the classification criterion was blurring and unreasonable, and the scope has not been systematically investigated until now. In this study, a new criterion for classifying tissues was established based on the absolute value of absorption and reduced scattering coefficients. Using the newly defined classification criterion, the performance and applicability of the SP3 and DA equations were evaluated with a series of investigation experiments. Extensive investigation results showed that the SP3 equation exhibited a better performance and wider applicability than the DA one in most of the observed cases, especially in tissues of low-scattering-low-absorption and low-scattering-high-absorption range. For the case of tissues with the high-scattering-low-absorption properties, a similar performance was observed for both the SP3 and the DA equations, in which case the DA was the preferred option for 3D whole-body optical imaging. Results of this study would provide significant reference for the study of hybrid light transport models.


Tissue classification criterion Performance investigation Third-order simplified harmonic spherical approximation Diffusion approximation Three-dimensional optical imaging 



This work was partly supported by the Program of National Basic Research and Development Program of China (973) under Grant No. 2011CB707702, the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant Nos. 81090272, 81227901, 81101083, 81230033, the Open Research Project under Grant 20120101 from SKLMCCS, and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.


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Copyright information

© International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Defu Yang
    • 1
  • Xueli Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xu Cao
    • 1
  • Jing Wang
    • 2
  • Jimin Liang
    • 1
  • Jie Tian
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Engineering Research Center of Molecular and Neuro Imaging of Ministry of Education, School of Life Science and TechnologyXidian UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Department of Nuclear Medicine, Xijing HospitalFourth Military Medical UniversityXi’anChina
  3. 3.Institute of AutomationChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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