Photoacoustic Image Patterns of Breast Carcinoma and Comparisons With Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Vascular Stained Histopathology

Sci Rep. 2015 Jul 10;5:11778. doi: 10.1038/srep11778.


Photoacoustic (optoacoustic) imaging can visualize vasculature deep in tissue using the high contrast of hemoglobin to light, with the high-resolution possible with ultrasound detection. Since angiogenesis, one of the hallmarks of cancer, leads to increased vascularity, photoacoustics holds promise in imaging breast cancer as shown in proof-of-principle studies. Here for the first time, we investigate if there are specific photoacoustic appearances of breast malignancies which can be related to the tumor vascularity, using an upgraded research imaging system, the Twente Photoacoustic Mammoscope. In addition to comparisons with x-ray and ultrasound images, in subsets of cases the photoacoustic images were compared with MR images, and with vascular staining in histopathology. We were able to identify lesions in suspect breasts at the expected locations in 28 of 29 cases. We discovered generally three types of photoacoustic appearances reminiscent of contrast enhancement types reported in MR imaging of breast malignancies, and first insights were gained into the relationship with tumor vascularity.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / chemistry
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Photoacoustic Techniques*
  • Radiography
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio
  • Ultrasonography


  • Hemoglobins