Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and University of Southern California brought together two similar imaging modalities that turn out to work very well together in visualizing internal organs.
Photoacoustic imaging relies on a laser that excites soft tissue to vibrate and in turn produce a detectable audio signal which is characteristic of the tissue it’s coming from. Traditional ultrasound emits a regular high frequency audio wave and measures its characteristics when it bounces back. By combining the two into an endoscope and imaging at the same time, the team was able to capture individual organs at high resolution in a study on animals.
From the study abstract:
[P]hotoacoustic endoscopy possesses a unique combination of functional optical contrast and high spatial resolution at clinically relevant depths, ideal for imaging soft tissues. With these attributes, photoacoustic endoscopy can overcome the current limitations of ultrasound endoscopy. Moreover, the benefits of photoacoustic imaging do not come at the expense of existing ultrasound functions; photoacoustic endoscopy systems are inherently compatible with ultrasound imaging, thereby enabling multimodality imaging with complementary contrast. Here we present simultaneous photoacoustic and ultrasonic dual-mode endoscopy and show its ability to image internal organs in vivo, thus illustrating its potential clinical application.
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Study abstract in Nature Medicine: Simultaneous functional photoacoustic and ultrasonic endoscopy of internal organs in vivo