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Comparison of diffusion approximation and Monte Carlo based finite element models for simulating thermal responses to laser irradiation in discrete vessels.


Both diffusion approximation (DA) and Monte Carlo (MC) models have been used to simulate light distribution in multilayered human skin with or without discrete blood vessels. However, no detailed comparison of the light distribution, heat generation and induced thermal damage between these two models has been done for discrete vessels. Three models were constructed: (1) MC-based finite element method (FEM) model, referred to as MC-FEM; (2) DA-based FEM with simple scaling factors according to chromophore concentrations (SFCC) in the epidermis and vessels, referred to as DA-FEM-SFCC; and (3) DA-FEM with improved scaling factors (ISF) obtained by equalizing the total light energy depositions that are solved from the DA and MC models in the epidermis and vessels, respectively, referred to as DA-FEM-ISF. The results show that DA-FEM-SFCC underestimates the light energy deposition in the epidermis and vessels when compared to MC-FEM. The difference is nonlinearly dependent on wavelength, dermal blood volume fraction, vessel size and depth, etc. Thus, the temperature and damage profiles are also dramatically different. DA-FEM-ISF achieves much better results in calculating heat generation and induced thermal damage when compared to MC-FEM, and has the advantages of both calculation speed and accuracy. The disadvantage is that a multidimensional ISF table is needed for DA-FEM-ISF to be a practical modelling tool.

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