Thyroid cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers. About 3-8% of the people in the United States have thyroid nodules, and 5-15% of these nodules are malignant. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) is a standard procedure to diagnose malignity of nodules. However, about 10-20% of FNABs produce indeterminable results, which leads to repeat biopsies and unnecessary surgical operations. We have explored photoacoustic (PA) imaging as a new method to identify cancerous nodules. In a pilot study to test its feasibility, we recruited patients with thyroid nodules (currently 36 cases with 21 malignant and 15 benign nodules), acquired in vivo PA and ultrasound (US) images of the nodules in real time using a recently-developed clinical PA/US imaging system, and analyzed the acquired data offline. The preliminary results show that malignant and benign nodules could be differentiated by utilizing their PA amplitudes at different excitation wavelengths. This is the first in vivo PA analysis of thyroid nodules. Although a larger-scale study is needed for statistical significance, the preliminary results show the good potential of PA imaging as a non-invasive tool for triaging thyroid cancer.
Jeesu Kim, Min-Hee Kim, Kwanhoon Jo, Jeonghoon Ha, Yongmin Kim, Dong-Jun Lim, and Chulhong Kim, "Photoacoustic analysis of thyroid cancer in vivo: a pilot study," Proc. SPIE 10064, Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing 2017, 1006408 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 29, 2017; Published: 3 March 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2251646.
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