Experimentally measured optical pathlengths for the adult head, calf and forearm and the head of the newborn infant as a function of inter optode spacing

Adv Exp Med Biol. 1992:316:143-53. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4615-3404-4_17.


The Differential Pathlength Factor (DPF) has been measured for several different tissues. The results showed that the DPF varied with the type of tissue studied, and in the case of the adult calf with sex. However, the DPF for all tissues studied was constant once the inter optode spacing exceeded 2.5 cm. Thus, measurements can be made by NIR spectroscopy at a range of inter optode spacings, and a single DPF used in the calculation of chromophore concentration. The results also showed that the major source of error in the DPF lay in the measurement of the inter optode spacing. To improve accuracy, two options are possible. Firstly, some means of continuous measurement of inter optode spacing could be incorporated in the NIR instrumentation. The better alternative would be an instrument incorporating a method of directly measuring the optical pathlength at each wavelength. This could be done either by time of flight measurement, or if it can be validated, by phase shift measurement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Forearm
  • Head
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infrared Rays
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Optics and Photonics / instrumentation*
  • Oxygen / analysis*
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared / instrumentation*


  • Oxygen