Reflection artifacts caused by acoustic inhomogeneities constitute a major problem in epi-mode biomedical photoacoustic imaging. Photoacoustic transients from the skin and superficial optical absorbers traverse into the tissue and reflect off echogenic structures to generate reflection artifacts. These artifacts cause difficulties in the interpretation of images and reduce contrast and imaging depth. We recently developed a method called PAFUSion (photoacoustic-guided focused ultrasound) to circumvent the problem of reflection artifacts in photoacoustic imaging. We already demonstrated that the photoacoustic signals can be backpropagated using synthetic aperture pulse-echo data for identifying and reducing reflection artifacts in vivo. In this work, we propose an alternative variant of PAFUSion in which synthetic backpropagation of photoacoustic signals is based on multi-angled plane-wave ultrasound measurements. We implemented plane-wave and synthetic aperture PAFUSion in a handheld ultrasound/photoacoustic imaging system and demonstrate reduction of reflection artifacts in phantoms and in vivo measurements on a human finger using both approaches. Our results suggest that, while both approaches are equivalent in terms of artifact reduction efficiency, plane-wave PAFUSion requires less pulse echo acquisitions when the skin absorption is the main cause of reflection artifacts.
Kuniyil Ajith Singh, M., Jaeger, M., Frenz, M., & Steenbergen, W. (2017). Photoacoustic reflection artifact reduction using photoacoustic-guided focused ultrasound: comparison between plane-wave and element-by-element synthetic backpropagation approach. Biomedical optics express, 8(4), 2245-2260. https://doi.org/10.1364/BOE.8.002245