Diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis necessitates the detection and differentiation of rupture prone plaques. In principle, intravascular photoacoustic (IVPA) imaging has the ability to simultaneously visualize the structure and composition of atherosclerotic plaques by utilizing the difference in optical absorption. Extensive studies are required to validate the utility of IVPA imaging in detecting vulnerable plaques and address issues associated with the clinical implementation of the technique. In this work, we performed ex vivo imaging studies using a rabbit model of atherosclerosis. The intravascular photoacoustic (IVPA) and ultrasound (IVUS) images of the normal aorta and aorta with plaque were obtained and compared with histological slices of the tissue. The results indicate that IVPA imaging is capable of detecting plaques and showed potential in determining the composition. Furthermore, we initially addressed several aspects of clinical implementation of the IVPA imaging. Specifically, the configuration of combined IVPA and IVUS catheter was investigated and the effect of the optical absorption of the luminal blood on the IVPA image quality was evaluated. Overall, this study suggests that IVPA imaging can become a unique and important clinical tool.
In many clinical and research applications including cancer diagnosis, tumor response to therapy, reconstructive surgery, monitoring of transplanted tissues and organs, and quantitative evaluation of angiogenesis, sequential and quantitative assessment of microcirculation in tissue is required. In this paper we present an imaging technique capable of spatial and temporal measurements of blood perfusion through microcirculation. To demonstrate the developed imaging technique, studies were conducted using phantoms with modeled small blood vessels of various diameters positioned at different depths. A change in the magnitude of the photoacoustic signal was observed during vessel constriction and subsequent displacement of optically absorbing liquid present in the vessels. The results of the study suggest that photoacoustic, ultrasound and strain imaging could be used to sequentially monitor and qualitatively assess blood perfusion through microcirculation.
To perform ultrasound imaging using an array transducer, a focused ultrasound beam is transmitted in a particular direction within the tissue and the received backscattered ultrasound wave is then dynamically focused at every position along the beam. The ultrasound beam is scanned over the desired region to form an image. The photoacoustic imaging, however, is distinct from conventional ultrasound imaging. In photoacoustic imaging the acoustic transients are generated simultaneously in the entire volume of the irradiated tissue - no transmit focusing is possible due to light scattering in the tissue. The photoacoustic waves are then recorded on every element of the ultrasound transducer array at once and processed to form an image. Therefore, compared to ultrasound imaging, photoacoustic imaging can utilize dynamic receive focusing only. In this paper, we describe the image formation algorithms of the array-based photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging system and present methods to improve the quality of photoacoustic images. To evaluate the performance of photoacoustic imaging using an array transducer, numerical simulations and phantom experiments were performed. First, to evaluate spatial resolution, a point source was imaged using a combined ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging system. Next, image quality was assessed by imaging tissue imaging phantoms containing a circular inclusion. Finally, the photoacoustic and ultrasound images from the combined imaging system were analyzed.
Due to its excellent spatial resolution, fast and reliable performance, cost and wide availability, ultrasound should be considered the imaging modality of choice for many applications including molecular imaging. However, ultrasound imaging cannot image molecular content of tissue due to trade-off between spatial resolution and penetration depth. Consequently, contrast agents have been developed both to enhance the contrast of ultrasound images and to make the images molecularly specific. Most ultrasound contrast agents, however, are micrometer sized and may not be applicable to wide range of pathology-specific cellular and molecular imaging. We have developed an imaging technique - magneto-motive ultrasound (MMUS) imaging, capable of imaging magnetic nanoparticles subjected to time-varying magnetic field. The result of our studies indicate that magnetically excited nanoparticles can be used as contrast agents in magneto-motive ultrasound imaging thus expanding the role of ultrasound imaging to cellular scales and molecular sensitivity. View full abstract