An oxygen concentration measurement system for blood hemoglobin comprises a multiple-wavelength low-coherence optical light source that is coupled by single mode fibers through a splitter and combiner and focused on both a target tissue sample and a reference mirror. Reflections from both the reference mirror and from the depths of the target tissue sample are carried back and mixed to produce interference fringes in the splitter and combiner. The reference mirror is set such that the distance traversed in the reference path is the same as the distance traversed into and back from the target tissue sample at some depth in the sample that will provide light attenuation information that is dependent on the oxygen in blood hemoglobin in the target tissue sample. Two wavelengths of light are used to obtain concentrations. The method can be used to measure total hemoglobin concentration [Hb.sub.deoxy +Hb.sub.oxy ] or total blood volume in tissue and in conjunction with oxygen saturation measurements from pulse oximetry can be used to absolutely quantify oxyhemoglobin [HbO.sub.2 ] in tissue. The apparatus and method provide a general means for absolute quantitation of an absorber dispersed in a highly scattering medium.
NOTICE OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.