TH-AB-209-09: Quantitative Imaging of Electrical Conductivity by VHF-Induced Thermoacoustics




To demonstrate that very high frequency (VHF) induced thermoacoustics has the potential to provide quantitative images of electrical conductivity in Siemens/meter, much as shear wave elastography provides tissue stiffness in kPa. Quantitatively imaging a large organ requires exciting thermoacoustic pulses throughout the volume and broadband detection of those pulses because tomographic image reconstruction preserves frequency content. Applying the half-wavelength limit to a 200-micron inclusion inside a 7.5 cm diameter organ requires measurement sensitivity to frequencies ranging from 4 MHz down to 10 kHz, respectively. VHF irradiation provides superior depth penetration over near infrared used in photoacoustics. Additionally, VHF signal production is proportional to electrical conductivity, and prostate cancer is known to suppress electrical conductivity of prostatic fluid.


A dual-transducer system utilizing a P4-1 array connected to a Verasonics V1 system augmented by a lower frequency focused single element transducer was developed. Simultaneous acquisition of VHF-induced thermoacoustic pulses by both transducers enabled comparison of transducer performance. Data from the clinical array generated a stack of 96-images with separation of 0.3 mm, whereas the single element transducer imaged only in a single plane. In-plane resolution and quantitative accuracy were measured at isocenter.


The array provided volumetric imaging capability with superior resolution whereas the single element transducer provided superior quantitative accuracy. Combining axial images from both transducers preserved resolution of the P4-1 array and improved image contrast. Neither transducer was sensitive to frequencies below 50 kHz, resulting in a DC offset and low-frequency shading over fields of view exceeding 15 mm. Fresh human prostates were imaged ex vivo and volumetric reconstructions reveal structures rarely seen in diagnostic images.


Quantitative whole-organ thermoacoustic tomography will be feasible by sparsely interspersing transducer elements sensitive to the low end of the ultrasonic range.