Early diagnosis of intracranial hematomas is necessary to improve outcome in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). CT and MRI can diagnose intracranial hematomas, but cannot be used until the patient arrives at a major healthcare facility, resulting in delayed diagnosis. Near infrared spectroscopy may suggest the presence of unilateral intracranial hematomas, but provides minimal information on hematoma type and location due to limitations associated with strong light scattering. We have used optoacoustics (which combines high endogenous optical contrast with the resolution of ultrasound) to diagnose hematomas and monitor cerebral oxygenation. We performed animal and clinical studies on detection and characterization of hematomas and on monitoring cerebral hypoxia by probing the superior sagittal sinus (SSS). Recently, we built a medical grade, multi-wavelength, OPO-based optoacoustic system tunable in the near infrared spectral range. We developed new patient interfaces for noninvasive, transcranial measurements in the transmission mode in the presence of dense hair and used it in patients with TBI. The optoacoustic system was capable of detecting and characterizing intra- and extracranial hematomas. SSS blood oxygenation was measured as well with the new interface. The obtained results indicate that the optoacoustic system in the transmission mode provides detection and characterization of hematomas in TBI patients, as well as cerebral venous blood oxygenation monitoring. The transmission mode approach can be used for optoacoustic brain imaging, tomography, and mapping in humans.