A practical and adequate approach to modeling light propagation in an adult head with a low-scattering cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) region by use of diffusion theory was investigated. The diffusion approximation does not hold in a nonscattering or low-scattering regions. The hybrid radiosity - diffusion method was adopted to model the light propagation in the head with a nonscattering region. In the hybrid method the geometry of the nonscattering region is acquired as a priori information. In reality, low-level scattering occurs in the CSF region and may reduce the error caused by the diffusion approximation. The partial optical path length and the spatial sensitivity profile calculated by the finite-element method agree well with those calculated by the Monte Carlo method in the case in which the transport scattering coefficient of the CSF layer is greater than 0.3 mm-1. Because it is feasible to assume that the transport scattering coefficient of a CSF layer is 0.3 mm-1, it is practical to adopt diffusion theory to the modeling of light propagation in an adult head as an alternative to the hybrid method.
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