Microwave Radiometry In Living Tissue: What Does It Measure?

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IEEE Transactions On Biomedical Engineering


The sensitivity of microwave radiometry for detecting subcutaneous targets was studied both experimentally and theoretically. The radiometer used a dielectric loaded rectangular waveguide atenna in contact with a lossy dielectric medium. A cylindrical target with dielectric properties and/or temperature different from that of the surrounding medium was located beneath this surface. For most of the studies, the target and the surrounding medium were maintained at constant, but unequal, temperatures (i.e., heat conduction effects were insignificant). The received radiometric signal was calculated as the location and dielectric properties of the target were varied. Finally, the radiometer signal was calculated for the situation with the target maintained at constant temperature but with the surrounding medium modeled by the bioheat equation. Experimental studies were performed using a radiometer operating at 4.7 GHz. The target was a thin walled tube through which a temperature controlled liquid was circulated, located in a temperature controlled fluid tank. The results indicate that microwave radiometry (as used in this study) responds to the temperature averaged over the field pattern of the antenna with very strong weighting of regions near the surface. A simple quasi-static analysis provides a good indication of the sensitivity of the technique for detecting cylindrical targets whose dielectric properties are different from those of the surrounding medium. A simple estimate of thermal conduction around the target suggest that thermal effects greatly increase the apparent size of the target.

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