JOURNAL ARTICLE

Deformation-compensated averaging for clutter reduction in epiphotoacoustic imaging in vivo

Michael Jaeger, David Harris-Birtill, Andreas Gertsch, Elizabeth O'Flynn, Jeffrey Bamber
Journal of Biomedical Optics 2012, 17 (6): 066007
22734763
Photoacoustic imaging, based on ultrasound detected after laser irradiation, is an extension to diagnostic ultrasound for imaging the vasculature, blood oxygenation and the uptake of optical contrast media with promise for cancer diagnosis. For versatile scanning, the irradiation optics is preferably combined with the acoustic probe in an epi-style arrangement avoiding acoustically dense tissue in the acoustic propagation path from tissue irradiation to acoustic detection. Unfortunately epiphotoacoustic imaging suffers from strong clutter, arising from optical absorption in tissue outside the image plane, and from acoustic backscattering. This limits the imaging depth for useful photoacoustic image contrast to typically less than one centimeter. Deformation-compensated averaging (DCA), which takes advantage of clutter decorrelation induced by palpating the tissue with the imaging probe, has previously been proposed for clutter reduction. We demonstrate for the first time that DCA results in reduced clutter in real-time freehand clinical epiphotoacoustic imaging. For this purpose, combined photoacoustic and pulse-echo imaging at 10-Hz frame rate was implemented on a commercial scanner, allowing for ultrasound-based motion tracking inherently coregistered with photoacoustic frames. Results from the forearm and the neck confirm that contrast is improved and imaging depth increased by DCA.

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