We report an optical fiber ultrasound transmitter with electrospun MWCNT-polymer composite, generating high-amplitude broadband ultrasound. They produced pressures in the range of conventional intravascular imaging transducers, and can be incorporated into catheters/needles for keyhole surgery
In a wide range of clinical procedures, accurate placement of medical devices such as needles and catheters is critical to optimize patient outcomes. Ultrasound imaging is often used to guide minimally invasive procedures, as it can provide real-time visualization of patient anatomy and medical devices. However, this modality can provide low image contrast for soft tissues, and poor visualization of medical devices that are steeply angled with respect to the incoming ultrasound beams. Photoacoustic sensors can provide information about the spatial distributions of tissue chromophores that could be valuable for guiding minimally invasive procedures. In this study, a system for guiding minimally invasive procedures using photoacoustic sensing was developed. This system included a miniature photoacoustic probe with three optical fibers: one with a bare end for photoacoustic excitation of tissue, a second for photoacoustic excitation of an optically absorbing coating at the distal end to transmit ultrasound, and a third with a Fabry-Perot cavity at the distal end for receiving ultrasound. The position of the photoacoustic probe was determined with ultrasonic tracking, which involved transmitting pulses from a linear-array ultrasound imaging probe at the tissue surface, and receiving them with the fiber-optic ultrasound receiver in the photoacoustic probe. The axial resolution of photoacoustic sensing was better than 70 μm, and the tracking accuracy was better than 1 mm in both axial and lateral dimensions. By translating the photoacoustic probe, depth scans were obtained from diﬀerent spatial positions, and two-dimensional images were reconstructed using a frequency-domain algorithm.
Detection of tissue structures such as nerves and blood vessels is of critical importance during many needle-based minimally invasive procedures. For instance, unintentional injections into arteries can lead to strokes or cardiotoxicity during interventional pain management procedures that involve injections in the vicinity of nerves. Reliable detection with current external imaging systems remains elusive. Optical generation and reception of ultrasound allow for depth-resolved sensing and they can be performed with optical fibers that are positioned within needles used in clinical practice. The needle probe developed in this study comprised separate optical fibers for generating and receiving ultrasound. Photoacoustic generation of ultrasound was performed on the distal end face of an optical fiber by coating it with an optically absorbing material. Ultrasound reception was performed using a high-finesse Fabry-Pérot cavity. The sensor data was displayed as an M-mode image with a real-time interface. Imaging was performed on a biological tissue phantom.
Novel ultrasound transducers were created with a composite of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) that was dip coated onto the end faces of optical fibers. The CNTs were functionalized with oleylamine to allow for their dissolution in xylene, a solvent of PDMS. Ultrasound pulses were generated by illuminating the composite coating with pulsed laser light. At distances of 2 to 16 mm from the end faces, ultrasound pressures ranged from 0.81 to 0.07 MPa and from 0.27 to 0.03 MPa with 105 and 200 μm core fibers, respectively. Using an optical fiber hydrophone positioned adjacent to the coated 200 µm core optical fiber, ultrasound reflectance measurements were obtained from the outer surface of a sheep heart ventricle. The results of this study suggest that ultrasound transducers that comprise optical fibers with CNT-PDMS composite coatings may be suitable for miniature medical imaging probes.