Optoacoustic tomography (OAT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provide highly complementary capabilities for anatomical and functional imaging of living organisms. Herein, we investigate on the feasibility of combining both modalities to render concurrent images. This was achieved by introducing a specifically-designed copper-shielded spherical ultrasound array into a preclinical MRI scanner. Phantom experiments revealed that the OAT probe caused minimal distortion in the MRI images, while synchronization of the laser and the MRI pulse sequence enabled defining artifact-free acquisition windows for OAT. Good dynamic OAT contrast from superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, a commonly used agent for MRI contrast enhancement, was also observed. The hybrid OAT-MRI system thus provides an excellent platform for cross-validating functional readings of both modalities. Overall, this initial study serves to establish the technical feasibility of developing a hybrid OAT-MRI system for biomedical research.

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