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Published May 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Performance characterization of an integrated ultrasound, photoacoustic, and thermoacoustic imaging system


We developed a novel trimodality system for human breast imaging by integrating photoacoustic (PA) and thermoacoustic (TA) imaging techniques into a modified commercial ultrasound scanner. Because light was delivered with an optical assembly placed within the microwave antenna, no mechanical switching between the microwave and laser sources was needed. Laser and microwave excitation pulses were interleaved to enable PA and TA data acquisition in parallel at a rate of 10 frames per second. A tube (7 mm inner diameter) filled with oxygenated bovine blood or 30 mM methylene blue dye was successfully detected in PA images in chicken breast tissue at depths of 6.6 and 8.4 cm, respectively, for the first time. The SNRs at these depths reached ∼24 and ∼15  dB, respectively, by averaging 200 signal acquisitions. Similarly, a tube (13 mm inner diameter) filled with saline solution (0.9%) at a depth of 4.4 cm in porcine fat tissue was successfully detected in TA images. The PA axial, lateral, and elevational resolutions were 640 μm, 720 μm, and 3.5 mm, respectively, suitable for breast cancer imaging. A PA noise-equivalent sensitivity to methylene blue solution of 260 nM was achieved in chicken tissue at a depth of 3.4 cm.

Additional Information

© 2012 SPIE. Paper 11739 received Dec. 19, 2011; revised manuscript received Mar. 28, 2012; accepted for publication Mar. 29, 2012; published online May 4, 2012. We acknowledge John Dean, Viktor Gornstein, and Ramon Erkamp from Philips Research North America for their help with building the system. This work was sponsored in part by National Institutes of Health grants R01 CA134539, U54 CA136398, R01 EB000712, R01 EB008085, R01 EB010049, and R01 CA157277. L.V.W. has a financial interest in Microphotoacoustics, Inc., and in Endra, Inc., which, however, did not support this work.

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