A wide variety of subcutaneous soft-tissue masses may be seen in clinical practice. Clinical examination based on palpation alone is often insufficient to identify the nature and exact origin of the mass, in which case imaging is necessary. We used handheld multispectral optoacoustic imaging technology (MSOT) in a proof-of-principle study to image superficial fatty tumors and compare the images with diagnostic ultrasound. Fatty tumors were clearly visualized by MSOT and exhibited a spectral signature which differed from normal fatty tissue or muscle tissue. Our findings further indicated that MSOT offers highly complementary contrast to sonography. Based on the performance achieved, we foresee a promising role for MSOT in the diagnosis and evaluation of subcutaneous soft-tissue masses. Picture: Pseudo-color representation of a cross-sectional multi-spectral optoacoustic slice through a subcutaneous lipoma. Multi-spectral information is encoded in color. The lipoma can clearly be distinguished from the surrounding tissue based on its color.

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