Acoustic impact of the human skull on transcranial photoacoustic imaging.

TitleAcoustic impact of the human skull on transcranial photoacoustic imaging.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsB Liang, S Wang, F Shen, QH Liu, Y Gong, and J Yao
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Start Page1512
Pagination1512 - 1528
Date Published03/2021

With balanced spatial resolution, imaging depth, and functional sensitivity, photoacoustic tomography (PAT) hold great promise for human brain imaging. However, the strong acoustic attenuation and aberration of the human skull (∼8 mm thick) are longstanding technical challenges for PAT of the human brain. In this work, we numerically investigated the impacts of the stratified human skull on photoacoustic wave propagation (<i>i.e.</i>, the forward model) and PAT image formation (<i>i.e.</i>, the inverse model). We simulated two representative transcranial PAT implementations: photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) and photoacoustic macroscopy (PAMac). In the forward model, we simulated the detailed photoacoustic wave propagation from a point or line source through a digital human skull. The wave attenuation, refraction, mode conversation, and reverberation were thoroughly investigated. In the inverse model, we reconstructed the transcranial PACT and PAMac images of a point or line target enclosed by the human skull. Our results demonstrate that transcranial PAMac suffers mainly from wave reverberation within the skull, leading to prolonged signal duration and reduced axial resolution. Transcranial PACT is more susceptible to the skull's acoustic distortion, mode conversion, and reverberation, which collectively lead to strong image artifacts and deteriorated spatial resolutions. We also found that PACT with a ring-shaped transducer array shows more tolerance of the skull's adverse impacts and can provide more accurate image reconstruction. Our results suggest that incorporating the skull's geometry and acoustic properties can improve transcranial PAT image reconstruction. We expect that our results have provided a more comprehensive understanding of the acoustic impact of the human skull on transcranial PAT.

Short TitleBiomedical Optics Express