Small-animal whole-body photoacoustic tomography: a review

Jun Xia, Lihong V Wang
IEEE Transactions on Bio-medical Engineering 2014, 61 (5): 1380-9
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.

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