Functional photoacoustic tomography of animal brains
This research is primarily focused on laser-based non-invasive photoacoustic tomography of small animal brains. Photoacoustic tomography, a novel imaging modality, was applied to visualize the distribution of optical absorptions in small-animal brains through the skin and skull. This technique combines the high-contrast advantage of optical imaging with the high-resolution advantage of ultrasonic imaging. Based on the intrinsic optical contrast, this imaging system successfully visualized three-dimensional tissue structures in intact brains, including lesions and tumors in brain cerebral cortex. Physiological changes and functional activities in brains, including cerebral blood volume and blood oxygenation in addition to anatomical information, were also satisfactorily monitored. This technique successfully imaged the dynamic distributions of exogenous contrast agents in small-animal brains. Photoacoustic angiography in small-animal brains yielding high contrast and high spatial resolution was implemented noninvasively using intravenously injected absorbing dyes. In the appendix, the theory of Monte Carlo simulation of polarized light propagation in scattering media was briefly summarized.