There is considerable interest in the development of photoacoustic endoscopy (PAE) probes for the clinical assessment of pathologies in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, guiding minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries and applications in foetal medicine. However, most previous PAE probes integrate mechanical scanners and piezoelectric transducers at the distal end which can be technically complex, expensive and pose challenges in achieving the necessary level of miniaturisation. We present two novel all-optical forward-viewing endoscopic probes operating in widefield tomography mode that have the potential to overcome these limitations. In one configuration, the probe comprises a transparent 40 MHz Fabry-Pérot ultrasound sensor deposited at the tip of a rigid, 3 mm diameter coherent fibre-optic bundle. In this way, the distal end of coherent fibre bundle acts as a 2D array of wideband ultrasound detectors. In another configuration, an optical relay is used between the distal end face of flexible fibre bundle and the Fabry-Pérot sensor to enlarge the lateral field of view to 6 mm x 6 mm. In both configurations, the pulsed excitation laser beam is full-field coupled into the fibre bundle at the proximal end for uniform backward-mode illumination of the tissue at the probe tip. In order to record the photoacoustic waves arriving at the probe tip, the proximal end of the fibre bundle is optically scanned in 2D with a CW wavelength-tunable interrogation laser beam thereby interrogating different spatial points on the sensor. A time-reversal image reconstruction algorithm was used to reconstruct a 3D image from the detected signals. The 3D field of view of the flexible PAE probe is 6 mm x 6 mm x 6 mm and the axial and lateral spatial resolution is 30 µm and 90 µm, respectively. 3D imaging capability is demonstrated using tissue phantoms, ex vivo tissues and in vivo. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first forward-viewing implementation of a photoacoustic endoscopy probe, and it offers several advantages over previous distal-end scanning probes. These include a high degree of miniaturisation, no moving parts at the distal end and simple and inexpensive fabrication with the potential to realise disposable probes for clinical imaging of the GI tract and other minimally invasive applications.
Rehman Ansari, Paul C. Beard, Edward Z. Zhang, and Adrien E. Desjardins, "Photoacoustic endoscopy probe using a coherent fibre-optic bundle and Fabry-Pérot ultrasound sensor
(Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9708, Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing 2016, 97080L (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 14, 2016; Published: 27 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2209687.4828179417001.
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