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Published May 2014 | Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

Small-Animal Whole-Body Photoacoustic Tomography: A Review


With the wide use of small animals for biomedical studies, in vivo small-animal whole-body imaging plays an increasingly important role. Photoacoustic tomography (PAT) is an emerging whole-body imaging modality that shows great potential for preclinical research. As a hybrid technique, PAT is based on the acoustic detection of optical absorption from either endogenous tissue chromophores, such as oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin, or exogenous contrast agents. Because ultrasound scatters much less than light in tissue, PAT generates high-resolution images in both the optical ballistic and diffusive regimes. Using near-infrared light, which has relatively low blood absorption, PAT can image through the whole body of small animals with acoustically defined spatial resolution. Anatomical and vascular structures are imaged with endogenous hemoglobin contrast, while functional and molecular images are enabled by the wide choice of exogenous optical contrasts. This paper reviews the rapidly growing field of small-animal whole-body PAT and highlights studies done in the past decade.

Additional Information

© 2013 IEEE. Manuscript received July 28, 2013; revised September 15, 2013; accepted September 20, 2013. Date of publication September 25, 2013; date of current version April 17, 2014. The authors appreciate Prof. James Ballard's close reading of the manuscript. This work was sponsored in part by National Institutes of Health grants DP1 EB016986 (NIH Director's Pioneer Award), R01 EB016963, R01 EB008085, R01 CA134539, U54 CA136398, R01 EB010049, R01 CA157277, and R01 CA159959. L.W. has a financial interest in Microphotoacoustics, Inc. and Endra, Inc., which, however, did not support this work.

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