Materials and Methods: We developed two types of handheld PAI probes: a linear PAI probe combining a conventional linear-array US probe with optical illumination and a transrectal ultrasonography (TRUS)-type PAI probe. We performed experiments with Japanese white rabbits and conducted clinical research trials of urology and vascular medicine with the approval of the medical human ethics committee of the National Defense Medical College.
Results: We successfully acquired high-dynamic-range images of the vascular network ranging from capillaries to landmark arteries and identified the femoral vein, deep femoral vein, and great saphenous vein of rabbits. These major vessels in the rabbits groin are surrounded with microvessels connected to each other. Periprostatic microvessels were monitored during radical prostatectomy for localized prostate cancer and they were colocalized with nerve fibers, and their distribution was consistent with the corresponding PAI. The TRUS-type PAI probe clearly demonstrated the location and extent of the neurovascular bundle (NVB) better than does TRUS alone.
Conclusions: The system, which can obtain a PAI, a US image, and a merged image, was innovatively designed so that medical doctors can easily find the location without any prior knowledge or extended skills to analyze the obtained images. Our pilot feasibility study confirms that PAI could be an imaging modality useful in the screening study and diagnostic biopsy.