The potential application of photoacoustic imaging (PAI) technology to diagnostic imaging and therapeutic monitoring
of inflammatory arthritis has been explored. The feasibility of our bench-top joint imaging systems in delineating soft
articular tissue structures in a noninvasive manner was validated first on rat models and then on human peripheral joints.
Based on the study on commonly used arthritis rat models, the capability of PAI to differentiate arthritic joints from the
normal was also examined. With sufficient imaging depth, PAI can realize tomographic imaging of a human peripheral
joint or a small-animal joint as a whole organ noninvasively. By presenting additional optical contrast and tissue
functional information such as blood volume and blood oxygen saturation, PAI may provide an opportunity for early
diagnosis of inflammatory joint disorders, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, and for monitoring of therapeutic outcomes with
improved sensitivity and accuracy.