Purpose: Photoacoustic tomography (PAT) is a novel imaging technique that can spatially resolve both morphological and functional tissue properties, such as vessel topology and tissue oxygenation. While this capacity makes PAT a promising modality for the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of various diseases, a current drawback is the limited field of view provided by the conventionally applied 2D probes.
Methods: In this paper, we present a novel approach to 3D reconstruction of PAT data (Tattoo tomography) that does not require an external tracking system and can smoothly be integrated into clinical workflows. It is based on an optical pattern placed on the region of interest prior to image acquisition. This pattern is designed in a way that a single tomographic image of it enables the recovery of the probe pose relative to the coordinate system of the pattern, which serves as a global coordinate system for image compounding.
Results: To investigate the feasibility of Tattoo tomography, we assessed the quality of 3D image reconstruction with experimental phantom data and in vivo forearm data. The results obtained with our prototype indicate that the Tattoo method enables the accurate and precise 3D reconstruction of PAT data and may be better suited for this task than the baseline method using optical tracking.
Conclusions: In contrast to previous approaches to 3D ultrasound (US) or PAT reconstruction, the Tattoo approach neither requires complex external hardware nor training data acquired for a specific application. It could thus become a valuable tool for clinical freehand PAT.