• Open Access

Photoacoustic tomography: fundamentals, advances and prospects


  • This article is published in Contrast Media and Molecular Imaging as part of the special issue on Photoacoustic Imaging, edited by Dr. Gregory Lanza, Department of Medicine, Washington University Medical Hospital.

L. V. Wang, Optical Imaging Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St Louis, Campus Box 1097, One Brookings Drive, St Louis, MO 63130-4899, USA.

E-mail: lhwang@biomed.wustl.edu


Optical microscopy has been contributing to the development of life science for more than three centuries. However, due to strong optical scattering in tissue, its in vivo imaging ability has been restricted to studies at superficial depths. Advances in photoacoustic tomography (PAT) now allow multiscale imaging at depths from sub-millimeter to several centimeters, with spatial resolutions from sub-micrometer to sub-millimeter. Because of this high scalability and its unique optical absorption contrast, PAT is capable of performing anatomical, functional, molecular and fluid-dynamic imaging at various system levels, and is playing an increasingly important role in fundamental biological research and clinical practice. This review discusses recent technical progress in PAT and presents corresponding applications. It ends with a discussion of several prospects and their technical challenges. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.