Commun. Comput. Phys., 8 (2010), pp. 1-50.

Recent Developments in Numerical Techniques for Transport-Based Medical Imaging Methods

Kui Ren 1*

1 Department of Mathematics, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C1200, Austin, TX 78712, USA.

Received 22 May 2009; Accepted (in revised version) 20 January 2010
Available online 12 February 2010


The objective of this paper is to review recent developments in numerical reconstruction methods for inverse transport problems in imaging applications, mainly optical tomography, fluorescence tomography and bioluminescence tomography. In those inverse problems, one aims at reconstructing physical parameters, such as the absorption coefficient, the scattering coefficient and the fluorescence light source, inside heterogeneous media, from partial knowledge of transport solutions on the boundaries of the media. The physical parameters recovered can be used for diagnostic purpose. Numerical reconstruction techniques for those inverse transport problems can be roughly classified into two categories: linear reconstruction methods and nonlinear reconstruction methods. In the first type of methods, the inverse problems are linearized around some known background to obtain linear inverse problems. Classical regularization techniques are then applied to solve those inverse problems. The second type of methods are either based on regularized nonlinear least-square techniques or based on gradient-driven iterative methods for nonlinear operator equations. In either case, the unknown parameters are iteratively updated until the solutions of the transport equations with the those parameters match the measurements to a certain extent. We review linear and nonlinear reconstruction methods for inverse transport problems in medical imaging with stationary, frequency-domain and time-dependent data. The materials presented include both existing and new results. Meanwhile, we attempt to present similar algorithms for different problems in the same framework to make it more straightforward to generalize those algorithms to other inverse (transport) problems.

AMS subject classifications: 35Q20, 35R30, 65N21, 65Z05, 78A46

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Key words: Inverse problem, radiative transport equation, optical tomography, bioluminescence tomography, fluorescence tomography, iterative reconstruction.

*Corresponding author.
Email: (K. Ren)

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