Photoacoustic Tomography (PAT) employs high-power near-infrared (near-IR) laser pulses to generate structural and functional information on tissue chromophores up to several centimeters below the surface. Such insights may facilitate detection of breast cancer – the most common cancer in women. PAT mammography has been the subject of extensive research, including techniques based on exogenous agents for PAT contrast enhancement and molecular specificity. However, photothermal safety risks of PAT due to strong chromophores such as epidermal melanin and plasmonic nanoparticles have not been rigorously studied. We have used computational and experimental approaches to elucidate highly dynamic optical-thermal processes during PAT. A Monte Carlo model was used to simulate light propagation at 800 and 1064 nm in a multi-layer breast tissue geometry with different epidermal pigmentation levels and a tumorsimulating inclusion incorporating nanoparticles. Energy deposition results were then used in a bioheat transfer model to simulate temperature transients. Experimental measurements involved multi-layer hydrogel phantoms with inclusions incorporating gold nanoparticles. Phantom optical properties were measured using the inverse adding-doubling technique. Thermal imaging was performed as phantoms were irradiated with 5 ns near-IR pulses. Scenarios using 10 Hz laser irradiation of breast tissue containing various nanoparticle concentrations were implemented experimentally and computationally. Laser exposure levels were based on ANSI/IEC limits. Surface temperature measurements were compared to corresponding simulation data. In general, the effect of highly pigmented skin on temperature rise was significant, whereas unexpectedly small levels of temperature rise during nanoparticle irradiation were attributed to rapid photodegradation. Results provide key initial insights into light-tissue interactions impacting the safety and effectiveness of PAT.
Pejhman Ghassemi, Quanzeng Wang, and T. Joshua Pfefer, "Dynamic thermal effects of epidermal melanin and plasmonic nanoparticles during photoacoustic breast imaging," Proc. SPIE 9700, Design and Quality for Biomedical Technologies IX, 97000F (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 13, 2016; Published: 18 March 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2214870.
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