Photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) is an emerging computed imaging modality that exploits optical contrast and ultrasonic detection principles to form images of the photoacoustically induced initial pressure distribution within tissue. The PACT reconstruction problem corresponds to a time-domain inverse source problem, where the initial pressure distribution is recovered from the measurements recorded on an aperture outside the support of the source. A major challenge in transcranial PACT brain imaging is to compensate for aberrations in the measured data due to the propagation of the photoacoustic wavefields through the skull. To properly account for these effects, a wave equation-based inversion method should be employed that can model the heterogeneous elastic properties of the medium. In this study, an iterative image reconstruction method for 3D transcranial PACT is developed based on the elastic wave equation. To accomplish this, a forward model based on a finite-difference time-domain discretization of the elastic wave equation is established. Subsequently, gradient-based methods are employed for computing penalized least squares estimates of the initial source distribution that produced the measured photoacoustic data. The developed reconstruction algorithm is validated and investigated through computer-simulation studies.
Because optoacoustic tomography (OAT) can provide functional information based on hemoglobin contrast, it is a promising imaging modality for breast cancer diagnosis. Developing an effective OAT breast imaging system requires balancing multiple design constraints, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, computer- simulation studies are often conducted to facilitate this task. However, most existing computer-simulation studies of OAT breast imaging employ simple phantoms such as spheres or cylinders that over-simplify the complex anatomical structures in breasts, thus limiting the value of these studies in guiding real-world system design. In this work, we propose a method to generate realistic numerical breast phantoms for OAT research based on clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data. The phantoms include a skin layer that defines breast-air boundary, major vessel branches that affect light absorption in the breast, and fatty tissue and fibroglandular tissue whose acoustical heterogeneity perturbs acoustic wave propagation. By assigning realistic optical and acoustic parameters to different tissue types, we establish both optic and acoustic breast phantoms, which will be exported into standard data formats for cross-platform usage.
Photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) holds great promise for transcranial brain imaging. However, the strong reflection, scattering, attenuation, and mode-conversion of photoacoustic waves in the skull pose serious challenges to establishing the method. The lack of an appropriate model of solid media in conventional PACT imaging models, which are based on the canonical scalar wave equation, causes a significant model mismatch in the presence of the skull and thus results in deteriorated reconstructed images. The goal of this study was to develop an image reconstruction algorithm that accurately models the skull and thereby ameliorates the quality of reconstructed images. The propagation of photoacoustic waves through the skull was modeled by a viscoelastic stress tensor wave equation, which was subsequently discretized by use of a staggered grid fourth-order finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method. The matched adjoint of the FDTD-based wave propagation operator was derived for implementing a back-projection operator. Systematic computer simulations were conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of the back-projection operator for reconstructing images in a realistic three-dimensional PACT brain imaging system. The results suggest that the proposed algorithm can successfully reconstruct images from transcranially-measured pressure data and readily be translated to clinical PACT brain imaging applications.
Photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) holds great promise for transcranial brain imaging. However, the strong reflection, scattering and attenuation of acoustic waves in the skull present significant challenges to developing this method. We report on a systematic computer-simulation study of transcranial brain imaging using PACT. The goal of this study was to identify an effective imaging system design that can be translated for clinical use. The propagation of photoacoustic waves through a model skull was studied by use of an elastic finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method. The acoustic radiation pattern from a photoacoustic source just beneath the skull was observed with a ring transducer array that was level with the source. The observed radiation pattern was found to contain stronger contributions from waves that were converted to shear waves in skull than longitudinal waves that did not undergo mode conversion. Images reconstructed from the pressure data that contain shear wave components possess better resolution than images reconstructed from the data that only contain the longitudinal wave signals. These observations revealed that the detection system should be designed to capture photoacoustic signals that travel through the skull in the form of shear waves as well as in the form of longitudinal waves. A preliminary investigation on the effect of the presence of absorption in the skull is also reported. This study provides an insight into the wave phenomena in transcranial PACT imaging, as well as a concrete detection design strategy that mitigates the degraded resolution of reconstructed images.