Medical imaging plays an important role in diagnosis and treatment of multiple diseases. It is a field which seeks for improved sensitivity and spatiotemporal resolution to allow the dynamic monitoring of diverse biological processes that occur at the micro- and nanoscale. Emerging technologies for targeted diagnosis and therapy such as nanotherapeutics, microimplants, catheters, and small medical tools also need to be precisely located and monitored while performing their function inside the human body. In this work, we show for the first time the real-time tracking of moving single micro-objects below centimeter thick phantom tissue and ex vivo chicken breast, using multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT). This technique combines the advantages of ultrasound imaging regarding depth and resolution with the molecular specificity of optical methods, thereby facilitating the discrimination between the spectral signatures of the micro-objects from those of intrinsic tissue molecules. The resulting MSOT signal is further improved in terms of contrast and specificity by coating the micro-objects’ surface with gold nanorods, possessing a unique absorption spectrum, which facilitate their discrimination from surrounding biological tissues when translated to future in vivo settings.

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