Photoacoustic imaging quantifies elasticity

Biomedical engineers in the US have developed a form of photoacoustic imaging that can quantify the elasticity of human tissue. The technique, which the engineers tested on skeletal muscle in a human, could be used to monitor the elasticity of the cervix during pregnancy, for example, potentially allowing doctors to predict premature delivery dates (J. Biomed. Opt. 21 066011).

Scientists have known for a long time that a change in the mechanical properties of tissue can be a sign of underlying bodily changes, including those brought about by disease. Physicians can examine tissue for such changes by manipulating them directly, but imaging techniques such as ultrasound, nuclear magnetic resonance and optical coherence tomography can provide more detailed knowledge by mapping the tissue’s internal deformation – that is, strain – under load. If the distribution of stress in the tissue is also known, these techniques can generate images of elasticity, known as elastograms. […]

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