Quantitative estimation of both conductivity and permittivity of biological tissues is essential in many biomedical applications, ranging from therapeutic treatments to safety assessment of medical devices and dosimetry. Typically, the electromagnetic field distribution inside the body is predicted based on available ex-vivo measured electrical properties. Unfortunately, these values may be quite different from the ones measured in-vivo and cannot account for the differences among individuals. As a result, their use can introduce significant errors affecting therapeutic treatments and dose estimation. To cope with this problem, in this paper a new approach for estimation of effective electrical properties of human tissues is introduced. The proposed strategy is based on the solution of an inverse scattering problem (by means of a contrast source inversion scheme) and the use of an effective representation of the unknowns based on spatial priors derived by magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography. The approach is tested in controlled conditions against simulated single frequency data and realistic and anthropomorphic head and neck phantoms. Moreover, the inherent advantages have been assessed in the framework of hyperthermia treatment planning.
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