Sight and sound combine to improve body tissue imaging

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In Indiana, Purdue University researchers are developing a novel biomedical imaging system that combines optical and ultrasound technology to improve diagnosis of life-threatening diseases and enhance the clinical care of patients.

The system provides real-time compositional information of body tissue without the need for contrast agents and with better depth penetration compared with conventional optical techniques. Photoacoustic tomography is a noninvasive technique that works by converting absorbed optical energy into acoustic signal. Pulsed light is sent into body tissue, creating a small increase in temperature that causes the tissue to expand and create an acoustic response that can be detected by an ultrasound transducer. The ultrasound data is used to visualize the tissue.

“The nice thing about photoacoustic tomography is the compositional information,” said Craig Goergen, assistant professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. “It provides information about where blood and lipid are located, along with other essential information.”