Optoacoustic tomography (OAT) is a technique for generating high-resolution images of biological tissue that scatters light waves, typically biological tissue..
Image courtesy of Tomowave
Philadelphia, PA, — Motion Control Components and Systems – Application – OAT systems create these images with pulses of dark red light that have a maximum duration of 50 nanoseconds. These pulses heat the tissue and cause it to expand launching ultrasound wave, a phenomenon known scientifically as an optoacoustic effect. This thermo-elastic expansion produces high-frequency acoustic or ultrasonic waves that the imaging scanner detects and uses to create an image with computational methods such as filtered back-projection. OAT is unaffected by the scattering of photons, allowing it to take high-resolution images of deep biological tissue.
OAT also uses techniques such as functional and molecular imaging to identify each absorbing molecule that contributed to the image brightness. OAT uses light of different wavelengths to target various molecules of medical interest, such as hemoglobin, oxyhemoglobin and melanin.
This approach allows OAT to distinguish between molecules in the target tissue with different light absorbing properties, including exogenous contrast agents such as imaging probes to appear distinctly different on optoacoustic images.
Science at Work
Scientists at Tomowave Laboratories use technologies based on light and sound to make imaging systems for the healthcare industry. These technologies use optoacoustic and laser ultrasonic methods to produce modalities such as laser optoacoustic ultrasonic imaging system, which uses pulses of laser light with a dark red color.
Biological tissue absorbs this light, causing it to heat-up by a fraction of one degree. The resulting temperature increase causes an increase in pressure, which generates ultrasonic (optoacoustic) waves. The imaging scanner uses arrays of transducers to measure these ultrasound waves at different locations to generate images of internal tissue of different human and animal organs, such as breast or prostate. These systems listen to the sound of light, allowing doctors to detect and diagnose cancer and other conditions.
Images courtesy of Tomowave
Right: Volumetric image of the breast taken from clinical breast imaging system
Left: Section of the breast image showing a tumor and the vasculature being recruited by the tumor
Recently, engineers at Tomowave have developed a system that combines light and sound to generate three-dimensional images of tissue submerged in the imaging module, primarily the tissue of small animals used for research purposes and development of new contrast agents or therapeutic methods.
This optoacoustic tomography system is the first of its kind to produce functional 3D images of biological tissue with equally high resolution in each volumetric direction. The system provides comprehensive information on anatomy and function. These images are especially useful for studying the distribution of blood and its oxygenation level.
This system’s imaging module uses a 360-degree rotation to generate three-dimensional images.
Image courtesy of Tomowave
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Preclinical research systems rotate the object of study, while the module itself rotates in systems used in clinical settings such as breast imaging systems.
Noninvasive breast imaging systems apply the same technology to produce three-dimensional volumetric optoacoustic images and stack of two-dimensional ultrasonic images, allowing for image co-registration.
These systems produce scans at different wavelengths in minutes with minimal patient discomfort.
Custom software processes the volumetric data according to the specific items of interest, which may include hemoglobin content, oxygen saturation and vasculature visualization.
The imaging system uses a PSR180UT low profile rotary servo table from IntelLiDrives to rotate the imaging module at a constant speed, which is programmed in advance.
A real time precision encoder output allows synchronization of the image capture with the motor’s position, allowing the system to reconstruct the images in three dimensions.
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