Confocal microscopy measures tissue optical properties

Steven L. Jacques, Daniel S. Gareau

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


The signal from a confocal measurement as the focal volume is scanned down into a tissue yields an exponential decay versus depth z focus, signal = ρ exp(-μ z focus), where p [dimensionless] is the local reflectivity and μ [1/cm] is an attenuation coefficient. A simple theory for how ρ and |a depend on the optical properties of scattering (μ s) and anisotropy (g) is presented. Experimental measurements on 5 tissue types from mice (white and gray matter of brain, skin, liver, muscle) as well as 0.1-μm-dia. polystyrene microspheres are presented. The tissues have similar μ s values (about 500 [1/cm]) but variable g values (0.8-0.99). Anisotropy appears to be the primary mechanism of contrast for confocal measurements such as reflectance-mode confocal laser scanning microscopy (rCLSM) and optical coherence tomography (OCT). While fluorescence imaging depends on fluorophores, and absorption imaging depends on chromophores, the results of this study suggest that contrast of confocal imaging of biological tissues depends primarily on anisotropy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSaratov Fall Meeting 2005
Subtitle of host publicationOptical Technologies in Biophysics and Medicine VII
StatePublished - Oct 19 2006
EventSaratov Fall Meeting 2005: Optical Technologies in Biophysics and Medicine VII - Saratov, Russian Federation
Duration: Sep 27 2005Sep 30 2005

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherSaratov Fall Meeting 2005: Optical Technologies in Biophysics and Medicine VII
Country/TerritoryRussian Federation


  • Anisotropy
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Optical imaging
  • Optical properties
  • Tissue optics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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