Transillumination imaging for blood oxygen saturation estimation of skin lesions

Brian D'Alessandro, Atam P. Dhawan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Detecting the early stages of melanoma can be greatly assisted by an accurate estimate of subsurface blood volume and blood oxygen saturation, indicative of angiogenesis. Visualization of this blood volume present beneath a skin lesion can be achieved through the transillumination of the skin. As the absorption of major chromophores in the skin is wavelength dependent, multispectral imaging can provide the needed information to separate out relative amounts of each chromophore. However, a critical challenge to this strategy is relating the pixel intensities observed in a given image to the wavelength-dependent total absorption existing at each spatial location. Consequently, in this paper, we develop an extension to Beers law, estimated through a novel voxel-based, parallel processing Monte Carlo simulation of light propagation in skin which takes into account the specific geometry of our transillumination imaging apparatus. We then use this relation in a linear mixing model, solved using a multispectral image set, for chromophore separation and oxygen saturation estimation of an absorbing object located at a given depth within the medium. Validation is performed through the Monte Carlo simulation, as well as by imaging on a skin phantom. Results show that subsurface oxygen saturation can be reasonably estimated with good implications for the reconstruction of 3-D skin lesion volumes using transillumination toward early detection of malignancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6246675
Pages (from-to)2660-2667
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering


  • Melanoma
  • multispectral imaging
  • skin cancer
  • skin lesions
  • transillumination


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