All-optical ultrasound could pave way for combined MR-ultrasound imaging

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | July 13, 2018
MRI Ultrasound

To overcome this, researchers increased speed with the addition of a new imaging paradigm, new optical ultrasound generating materials, optimized ultrasound source geometries, and a highly sensitive fiber optic ultrasound detector.

Optical systems also produce larger bandwidths of sound than electronic-based ones, making them more versatile. By manipulating the light sources, researchers generated both low-frequency ultrasound for greater penetration into tissue and high-frequency ultrasound for higher resolution of images at shallower depth.

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The team tested the protype system by imaging a deceased zebrafish and a pig artery that was manipulated to emulate the dynamics of pulsing blood. Compared to an electronic high-frequency ultrasound, the system demonstrated a sustained frame rate of 15 Hertz, a dynamic range of 30 decibels, a penetration depth of six millimeters and a resolution of 75 by 100 micrometers.

Alles says the implementation of the scanner is expected to provide access to quality and affordable imaging and aid providers in administering greater and more valuable care to patients.

The potential for reduced costs of minimally invasive imaging probes will allow for more widespread application of high-quality image guidance during minimally invasive procedures,” he said. “Such minimally invasive procedures improve patient outcomes, reduce procedure time and complication rates, and usually reduce costs. Adding all-optical ultrasound to minimally invasive probes will result in improved visualization and guidance of the procedure, and will help overcome barriers preventing widespread use of minimally invasive procedures.”

Researchers are currently working to adapt the technology for clinical use with the development of a long, flexible imaging probe that enables freehand operation, and miniaturized versions for endoscopic applications.

Plans for human studies are currently underway to validate and eventually commercialize the system for clinical use.

Commercialization for preclinical and non-biological contexts is also anticipated.

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