Optoacoustic tomography systems have attained un-precedented volumetric imaging speeds, thus enabling insights into rapid biological dynamics and marking a milestone in the clinical translation of this modality. Fast imaging performance often comes at the cost of limited field-of-view, which may hinder potential applications looking at larger tissue volumes. The imaged field-of-view can potentially be expanded via scanning and using additional hardware to track the position of the imaging probe. However, this approach turns impractical for high-resolution volumetric scans performed in a freehand mode along arbitrary trajectories. We have developed an accurate framework for spatial compounding of time-lapse optoacoustic data. The method exploits the frequency-domain properties of vascular networks in optoacoustic images and estimates the relative motion and orientation of the imaging probe. This allows rapidly combining sequential volumetric frames into large area scans without additional tracking hardware. The approach is universally applicable for compounding volumetric data acquired with calibrated scanning systems but also in a freehand mode with up to six degrees of freedom. Robust performance is demonstrated for whole-body mouse imaging with spiral volumetric optoacoustic tomography and for freehand visualization of vascular networks in humans using volumetric imaging probes. The newly introduced capability for angiographic observations at multiple spatial and temporal scales is expected to greatly facilitate the use of optoacoustic imaging technology in pre-clinical research and clinical diagnostics. The technique can equally benefit other biomedical imaging modalities, such as scanning fluorescence microscopy, optical coherence tomography or ultrasonography, thus optimizing their trade-offs between fast imaging performance and field-of-view.

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