The appearance of random interference patterns, or speckle fields, in the spatial distributions of laser light scattered by weakly ordered media such as tissues, is probably the most evident and simply observed manifestation of coherence phenomena in tissue-light interactions. In the case of dynamic light scattering, when temporal speckle intensity fluctuations are induced by stochastic or regular motions of the scattering structure elements in the probed tissue volume, it is reasonable to try to apply the statistical analysis of these fluctuations to the monitoring or functional imaging of the tissue structure or the dynamics. As a result, laser speckle methods have recently become one of the most universally adopted and familiar technologies in biology and medicine (e.g., laser Doppler flowmetry is an example of such an analysis of dynamic laser speckle as applied to the monitoring and functional imaging of in vivo blood microcirculation).
The most typical applications of the statistical analysis of static and
dynamic laser speckles for the monitoring and functional imaging of tissue structure and dynamics are considered in this chapter; these applications are based on the various physical principles that determine the relations between the statistical characteristics of the detected speckle intensity fluctuations and the dynamical and structural properties of the probed tissue.
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