The propagation of a femtosecond optical pulse in a multidimensional off-resonance two-level medium is studied. Within the quasiadiabatic following approach, the evolution of the pulse is governed by a generalized Kadomtsev-Petviashvili equation with coupling between the spatial and temporal profile. The presence of this coupling can have a dramatic influence on the dynamics of the optical pulse. Thus, one can observe effects which cannot be described within the framework of the slowly-varying envelope approximation. In particular, we show that due to the interaction between the transient diffraction and the electrodynamic absorption, stable, localized multidimensional pulses can be formed.
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