Optoacoustic tomography provides a unique possibility for ultra-high-speed 3-D imaging by acquiring complete volumetric datasets from interrogation of tissue by a single nanosecond-duration laser pulse. Yet, similarly to ultrasound, optoacoustics is a time-resolved imaging method, thus, fast 3-D imaging implies real-time acquisition and processing of high speed data from hundreds of detectors simultaneously, which presents significant technological challenges. Herein we present a highly efficient graphical processing unit (GPU) framework for real-time reconstruction and visualization of 3-D tomographic optoacoustic data. By utilizing a newly developed 3-D optoacoustic scanner, which simultaneously acquires signals with a handheld 256-element spherical ultrasonic array system, we further demonstrate tracking of deep tissue human vasculature rendered at a rate of 10 volumetric frames per second. The flexibility provided by the handheld hardware design, combined with the real-time operation, makes the developed platform highly usable for both clinical imaging practice and small animal research applications.

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