AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 1, 2020


Laser Pulses Drum Up Sharp Images of Organs in Motion

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Photoacoustic technique produces ultrasound images of working organs in live mice


Researchers have developed a photoacoustic imaging technique that uses lasers to create detailed ultrasound images in live animals. The method allows for complete internal body scans with enough spatiotemporal resolution to see active organs, circulating cancer cells, and brain function.

Although modern imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) produce remarkable images of the body, MRI requires heavy shielding of its strong magnetic field and PET uses radiation, making it impractical for longer scan times.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed photoacoustic tomography, which uses harmless laser pulses and ultrasound waves. The system produces very detailed images that can be used for long scans allowing researchers to study biological processes in real time for extended periods. 

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