Here’s what we know about the opto-acoustic imaging technology from Seno Medical Instruments, Inc., a San Antonio, Texas firm. A recent report on the wires says that there is a new research agreement between Seno Medical and two Canadian universities to study the company’s first-ever commercially available opto-acoustic small animal imaging device. It turns out the technology, that utilizes the conversion of laser pulses into acoustic energy once the light hits tissue, can have profound consequences on development of future diagnostic imaging modalities for cancer and beyond.
The company explains its technology:
Laser opto-acoustic imaging technology combines optics and acoustics with a goal of improving the accuracy of the cancer diagnosis without the use of ionizing radiation (x-ray). The process starts by illuminating the breast with laser light of specific wavelengths. Tumors preferentially absorb the light over normal tissue and become slightly heated. A transient thermoelastic expansion causes a tumor to emit a pressure (acoustic) wave. This acoustic wave is then detected by an array of sensors positioned around the periphery of the breast held within the probe.
Signals from the sensors are analyzed and assembled into high contrast, high-resolution images that present the lesion in striking color. Because image contrast is related to both blood volume and oxygenation status, lesions may be correlated with benign or malignant histopathology. This is because malignant tumors possess increased microvasculature, but deplete oxygen from the blood at a higher rate than benign growths. Deoxygenated blood results in brighter images in the presence of a shorter wavelength than it does in the presence of a longer wavelength.
This technology has the merit of both the high contrast and spectral specificity of optical imaging and the sensitivity and resolution of ultrasonic imaging. It is more than just a combination of the two methods. The goal is to incorporate laser illumination and ultrasonic detection to achieve very high detection sensitivity.
Laser opto-acoustic imaging may permit the identification of tumors as small as 2 mm and has demonstrated the ability to see submillimeter structures. Early detection is important because biologically advanced tumors are more capable of metastasis.
Technology page @ Seno Medical: Laser Opto-Acoustic Imaging…
Press release: Seno Medical Instruments Launches First-Ever Commercially Available Opto-Acoustic Small Animal Imaging Research System…
Flashbacks: Optoacoustic Technology for Early Cancer Detection