While doctors have gotten pretty good at finding and excising tumors, identifying whether they have been removed in their entirety remains a challenge. Histology slides are today’s standard, but processing the tissue, freezing, slicing it, staining, imaging, and analysis take much too long. Patients are often sent home, only to find out later that a part of the tumor remains in their body.
Photoacoustic imaging, which relies on ultrashort laser pulses to create acoustic waves waves within tissue, may allow for intraoperative imaging sufficiently detailed to reveal whether a given tissue is cancerous or healthy. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and California Institute of Technology (Caltech), working with breast tissue, were able to use photoacoustics to image tissue faster than traditional slide microscopy (top image right), thanks to not having to prepare and stain it.
Breast tissue turns out to be particularly amenable to photoacoustic imaging because of its relatively high optical contrast, allowing a laser to penetrate deep into the tissue. The researchers, in a laboratory study, were able to produce images of breast tissue surfaces of comparable quality to multilayered histology.
Study in journal Science Advances: Fast label-free multilayered histology-like imaging of human breast cancer by photoacoustic microscopy…