In vivo microwave-based thermoacoustic tomography of rats
Microwave-based thermoacoustic tomography (TAT), based on the measurement of ultrasonic waves induced by microwave pulses, can reveal tissue dielectric properties that may be closely related to the physiological and pathological status of the tissues. Using microwaves as the excitation source improved imaging depth because of their deep penetration into biological tissues. We demonstrate, for the first time, in vivo microwave-based thermoacoustic imaging in rats. The transducer is rotated around the rat in a full circle, providing a full two-dimensional view. Instead of a flat ultrasonic transducer, we used a virtual line detector based on a cylindrically focused transducer. A 3 GHz microwave source with 0.6 µs pulse width and an electromagnetically shielded transducer with 2.25 MHz central frequency provided clear cross-sectional images of the rat's body. The high imaging contrast, based on the tissue's rate of absorption, and the ultrasonically defined spatial resolution combine to reveal the spine, kidney, muscle, and other deeply seated anatomical features in the rat's abdominal cavity. This non-invasive and non-ionizing imaging modality achieved an imaging depth beyond 6 cm in the rat's tissue. Cancer diagnosis based on information about tissue properties from microwave band TAT can potentially be more accurate than has previously been achievable.