The article describes an instrument designed to perform in vivo near-infrared spectroscopic measurements on human tissues. The system integrates five continuous-wave laser diode sources emitting in the near-infrared spectral region and a low-noise detection system based on an avalanche photodiode. The optical probe is based on a compact, reliable, and low-cost fiber based system with four quantitative measuring points. The excellent sensitivity of the instrument allows one to perform quantitative assessments of the hemoglobin concentration exploiting precise absorption measurements close to the absorption peak of the water: 975 nm. Moreover, a good signal to noise ratio is obtained also at a high acquisition rate, allowing us to follow rapid changes in oxidative metabolism. The system bandwidth is selectable within the range 2.3-27 Hz, i.e., 20 channels (five chromatic and four spatial channels) can be acquired 27 times for each measuring second, whereas the system amplification can be set to measure optical density ranging from 3.5 to 8.5. A prototype version of the instrument has been realized and characterized. (c)2004 American Institute of Physics.
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