Real-time photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging: A simple solution for clinical ultrasound systems with linear arrays

Leonardo G. Montilla, Ragnar Olafsson, Daniel R. Bauer, Russell S. Witte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Recent clinical studies have demonstrated that photoacoustic imaging (PAI) provides important diagnostic information during a routine breast exam for cancer. PAI enhances contrast between blood vessels and background tissue, which can help characterize suspicious lesions. However, most PAI systems are either not compatible with commercial ultrasound systems or inefficiently deliver light to the region of interest, effectively reducing the sensitivity of the technique. To address and potentially overcome these limitations, we developed an accessory for a standard linear ultrasound array that optimizes light delivery for PAI. The photoacoustic enabling device (PED) exploits an optically transparent acoustic reflector to help direct laser illumination to the region of interest. This study compares the PED with standard fiber bundle illumination in scattering and non-scattering media. In scattering media with the same incident fluence, the PED enhanced the photoacoustic signal by 18dB at a depth of 5mm and 6dB at a depth of 20mm. To demonstrate in vivo feasibility, we also used the device to image a mouse with a pancreatic tumor. The PED identified blood vessels at the periphery of the tumor, suggesting that PAI provides complementary contrast to standard pulse echo ultrasound. The PED is a simple and inexpensive solution that facilitates the translation of PAI technology to the clinic for routine screening of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)N1-N12
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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