Single-breath-hold photoacoustic computed tomography of the breast

Nat Commun. 2018 Jun 15;9(1):2352. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04576-z.


We have developed a single-breath-hold photoacoustic computed tomography (SBH-PACT) system to reveal detailed angiographic structures in human breasts. SBH-PACT features a deep penetration depth (4 cm in vivo) with high spatial and temporal resolutions (255 µm in-plane resolution and a 10 Hz 2D frame rate). By scanning the entire breast within a single breath hold (~15 s), a volumetric image can be acquired and subsequently reconstructed utilizing 3D back-projection with negligible breathing-induced motion artifacts. SBH-PACT clearly reveals tumors by observing higher blood vessel densities associated with tumors at high spatial resolution, showing early promise for high sensitivity in radiographically dense breasts. In addition to blood vessel imaging, the high imaging speed enables dynamic studies, such as photoacoustic elastography, which identifies tumors by showing less compliance. We imaged breast cancer patients with breast sizes ranging from B cup to DD cup, and skin pigmentations ranging from light to dark. SBH-PACT identified all the tumors without resorting to ionizing radiation or exogenous contrast, posing no health risks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Artifacts
  • Breast / blood supply
  • Breast / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breath Holding*
  • Contrast Media / chemistry
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Photoacoustic Techniques*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Respiration
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Veins / diagnostic imaging


  • Contrast Media