Transfontanelle photoacoustic imaging: ultrasound transducer selection analysis
Transfontanelle ultrasound imaging (TFUI) is the conventional approach for diagnosing brain injury in neonates. Despite being the first stage imaging modality, TFUI lacks accuracy in determining the injury at an early stage due to degraded sensitivity and specificity. Therefore, a modality like photoacoustic imaging that combines the advantages of both acoustic and optical imaging can overcome the existing TFUI limitations. Even though a variety of transducers have been used in TFUI, it is essential to identify the transducer specification that is optimal for transfontanelle imaging using the photoacoustic technique. In this study, we evaluated the performance of 6 commercially available ultrasound transducer arrays to identify the optimal characteristics for transfontanelle photoacoustic imaging. We focused on commercially available linear and phased array transducer probes with center frequencies ranging from 2.5MHz to 8.5MHz which covers the entire spectrum of the transducer arrays used for brain imaging. The probes were tested on both in vitro and ex vivo brain tissue, and their performance in terms of transducer resolution, size, penetration depth, sensitivity, signal to noise ratio, signal amplification and reconstructed image quality were evaluated. The analysis of selected transducers in these areas allowed us to determine the optimal transducer for transfontanelle imaging, based on vasculature depth and blood density in tissue using ex vivo sheep brain. The outcome of this evaluation identified the two most suitable ultrasound transducer probes for transfontanelle photoacoustic imaging.