Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences


Photoacoustic Imaging Instrumentation for Guiding Therapy

Photoacoustic imaging is a novel hybrid imaging modality that relies on the generation of ultrasound waves by the absorption of short laser pu

Photoacoustic Imaging

Its fundamental advantage derives from the fact that it encodes tissue optical absorption on to ultrasonic waves which are minimally scattered in soft tissues. It thus provides both the high spectrally selective contrast of optical imaging techniques and the high resolution of ultrasound. Photoacoustic imaging is particularly well suited to visualising vascular anatomy due to the strong absorption exhibited by haemoglobin. As a consequence, it provides significantly higher label-free vascular contrast than existing imaging modalities such as ultrasound. This offers new opportunities in interventional medicine for delineating tumour margins to aid cancer treatment planning, identifying major blood vessels to help guide fetal or laparoscopic surgery and monitoring minimally invasive ablative therapies to optimise treatment parameters. To implement the technique, a highly novel photoacoustic imaging technology based on a new type of all-optical ultrasound sensor has been developed over the last decade. The technology is generic allowing the development of both non invasive imaging instruments and endoscopic devices around a common instrument platform. Proof-of-concept has been established via a number of preclinical laboratory prototypes. The challenge ahead, and the aim of this platform, is to advance the clinical translation of the technology for use in interventional medicine. This will be achieved by engineering the instrumentation so that it is suitable for first-in-man use for guiding fetal surgery, laparoscopic liver surgery and pre-treatment planning for cancer management. This effort will be complementary to research currently funded by an ERC Advanced Grant, a Wellcome Trust Innovative Engineering for Health Award and several EPSRC project grants.