One of the challenges in high-resolution in vivo lipid-based photoacoustic tomography (PAT) is improving penetration depth and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) past subcutaneous fat absorbers. A potential solution is to create optical manipulation techniques to maximize the photon density within a region of interest. Here, we present a motorized PAT probe that is capable of tuning the depth in which light is focused, as well as substantially reducing probe-skin artifacts that can obscure image interpretation. Our PAT system consists of a Nd:YAG laser (Surelite EX, Continuum) coupled with a 40 MHz central frequency ultrasound transducer (Vevo2100, FUJIFILM Visual Sonics). This system allows us to deliver 10 Hz, 5 ns light pulses with fluence of 40 mJ/cm2 to the tissue interest and reconstruct PAT and ultrasound images with axial resolutions of 125 µm and 40 µm, respectively. The motorized PAT holder was validated by imaging a polyethylene-50 tubing embedded polyvinyl alcohol phantom and periaortic fat on apolipoprotein-E deficient mice. We used 1210 nm light for this study, as this wavelength generates PAT signal for both lipids and polyethylene-50 tubes. Ex vivo results showed a 2 mm improvement in penetration depth and in vivo experiments showed an increase in lipid SNR of at least 62%. Our PAT probe also utilizes a 7 μm aluminum filter to prevent in vivo probe-skin reflection artifacts that have been previously resolved using image post-processing techniques. Using this optimized PAT probe, we can direct light to various depths within tissue to improve image quality and prevent reflection artifacts.
Gurneet S. Sangha, Nick H. Hale, and Craig J. Goergen, "Motorized photoacoustic tomography probe for label-free improvement in image quality," Proc. SPIE 10486, Design and Quality for Biomedical Technologies XI, 1048604 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 27, 2018; Published: 19 February 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2289062.
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